NOrganizations have long tried to use this method to wash away their unsavory reputation Sponsorship Sports competitions with a worldwide impact. Such a ruse is probably close to the heart of strong Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In fact, his re-election campaign will begin this week when India, the hosts of the Cricket World Cup, take on arch-rivals Pakistan. Due to the home advantage, India is the favorite to win the tournament. If the team is crowned world one-day cricket champions this year, Mr Modi could be one tried to call an early poll to capitalize on the celebratory enthusiasm.
There has been increasing violence in India under Mr Modi religious minorities and the criminalization of dissent. But no cricketing nation wants to offend New Delhi. The country’s cricket governing body dominated global decision-making and is led by Modi loyalists. When the cricket team refused to travel to Pakistan last year, the games were moved to Sri Lanka. The Indian Premier League, a TV-friendly three-hour version of cricket, is the second most lucrative sport in the world. The ruthless advance of commercial interests appears to be progress on the one hand and decadence on the other.
India controls a sport, but others buy the biggest names in sports to exert control. In the English Premier League, Manchester City is majority owned by the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates. Shopping Trophy assets are a way to exercise soft power. The 2022 World Cup in Qatar was a highlight of sportswear. Controversy over the host’s poor human rights record and draconian anti-gay laws didn’t stop fans from turning up in droves.
Hosting today’s competition with 48 teams alone is considered too demanding for most nations. The next men’s tournament in 2026 will be held in Canada, Mexico and the USA. But holding the 2030 competition in South America, Africa and Europe sounds surreal. Spain, Portugal and Morocco have been named as co-hosts, but the first three games will be played in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay to mark the 100th anniversary of the World Cup. Such a bizarre arrangement could lead to calls for a return to a single-country format. Despite his appalling human rights record Saudi Arabia is in pole position to host the 2034 World Cup.
Like Modi’s India, Mohammed bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia is also blamed to murder his critics abroad. Entering the sport helped restore his image. The Saudi-led takeover of English soccer club Newcastle United in 2021 was controversial, but local fans celebrated by waving the kingdom’s flags. It’s about the money: Football star Cristiano Ronaldo plays in the Saudi Pro League for a reported £173 million a year. The country stunned professional golf when its LIV Golf vehicle announced this invest $1 billion to merge with the PGA – despite the latter Issue about the use of torture in Saudi Arabia, the imprisonment of political activists and the history of enforced disappearances. Cash isn’t everything. After a rocket attack near the race track, Formula 1 drivers threatened to boycott the country in 2022. A month later, a ceasefire was declared in the neighboring war in Yemen.
Realpolitik cannot be overlooked. Respect for different cultures does not mean that abuse is tolerated. The lure of the arena should not excuse a lack of moral responsibility. Sports can inspire great public joy and the idea that only the wicked would blame them. But it’s shocking to know that the pure joy many fans feel comes from the fruits of baseness.