The Star Late Edition

Oil money reshaping football


THEY drill deep into the desert sand and pump out the dirty black stuff, oil. The dirty oil has made the countries in the arid Arabian peninsula prosperous.

With the money earned from oil, Arab nations have been transformi­ng their desert landscape with modern cities, skyscraper­s, airports and resorts. Once just sand and duststorms, cities like Dubai, Doha, Riyadh and Kuwait City show off with their skyscraper­s and resorts and have become the playground­s of the rich.

The Arabs are also investing in the stock, financial and property markets across the world. But it's the investment in sports that has raised eyebrows. Why would the Arabs, not known to be sports-loving people, want to invest in English and European sports?

It's because of the worldwide media coverage sport enjoys. Soccer, especially, has a global audience of millions of viewers. By sponsoring soccer and tennis, the sponsor earns the right to advertise his name.

Man City and Paris St Germain have Arab owners, so you see Etihad and Emirates splashed everywhere. They are able to buy the best players in the world and challenge and unseat the big teams from their perch. They are even luring big stars like Ronaldo and Messi from Europe to play for their teams in the Middle East.

But Man City has been accused of breaching financial fair play rules. The rich Arab owners have helped Man City dominate the English Premier League and win five titles in the last six years. The oil-rich Gulf states are pumping money into European soccer.

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