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Business of Sport

Sports business news from the Middle East. All the important stories, exclusive interviews, plus authoritative opinion and analysis

Marina Storti, CEO of WTA Ventures, front right, and Kevin Foster, head of communications at PIF, front left, at the signing of the sponsorship agreement between the two

PIF to sponsor women’s world tennis rankings

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is giving its name to the women’s world tennis rankings, the latest sponsorship deal in the kingdom’s drive to dominate global sports.  “The PIF WTA Rankings will track players’ journeys, and PIF will work with the WTA to celebrate and support players’ progress,” PIF said, calling the deal “multi-year”.  […]

Mark Foster, who played professional rugby for Gloucester and now heads LIV Golf, says the sport is ripe for investment

LIV Golf chief says rugby next in line for Gulf funds

Talks are taking place with sovereign wealth funds and private equity entities about potential Gulf investment in rugby, according to Mark Foster, senior vice president of finance operations at Saudi-backed LIV Golf Investments. Foster, a former Gloucester and Exeter Chiefs professional rugby player, told The Good the Bad & the Rugby podcast that discussions have […]

A young Cristiano Ronaldo fan pictured at an Al Nassr Saudi Pro League match. The star has approximately 849 million social media followers

Binance to launch new Ronaldo NFTs ‘soon’ amid legal case

Cristiano Ronaldo and the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance are to launch a fourth set of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) “soon”, as the footballer faces a $1 billion lawsuit for promoting the company. The Al Nassr and Portugal forward signed a deal with Binance in 2022 to create NFTs – digital collectibles – using his “CR7” […]

Fifa president Gianni Infantino at the Club World Cup final in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia last December. The value of the deal with Saudi Aramco has not been disclosed

Saudi Aramco signs up with Fifa as World Cup sponsor

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil producer, has signed a four-year global partnership with international football association Fifa. The energy giant will become Fifa’s major worldwide partner with sponsorship rights for multiple events, including the Fifa World Cup 26, co-hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico and the Fifa Women’s World Cup 2027. The value […]

Electronics, Headphones, Adult Foreign investment in esports has been slowing but experts remain upbeat about the future of the market esports game gaming Saudi Arabia

World Cup’s brimming prize pot to revive Saudi esports

Saudi Arabia will offer a record-breaking $60 million prize pool for its upcoming Esports World Cup, at a time when the kingdom is facing challenges attracting foreign investments to the sector. The amount of prize money for this summer’s event breaks the previous record of $45 million set by esports festival Gamer8 in 2023. Saudi […]

Saudi Arabia Ronnie O'Sullivan snooker

Ronnie O’Sullivan to be Saudi snooker ambassador

Saudi Arabia has signed a deal with the world’s top snooker player, Ronnie O’Sullivan, for him to act as an “ambassador” for the sport in Saudi Arabia.  It was announced alongside news that Saudi Arabia has become an official sponsor of the World Snooker Championship that begins this weekend in Sheffield, UK. Under the three-year […]

Riyadh women's tennis Iga Swiatek

Riyadh secures three years of women’s world tennis finals

Riyadh is to host the Women’s Tennis Association finals for the next three years, with record prize money for participants. The top eight singles players and doubles teams in the annual Race to the WTA Finals will play for a prize pot of $15 million, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) said in a statement. The […]

Lauren James of Chelsea FC celebrates a goal against Manchester City in the FA Women's League Cup semi-final. Oman Air is absent from the list of sponsors on the club's website

Oman Air and Chelsea FC ‘terminate sponsorship deal’

A sponsorship deal between Oman Air and English Premier League club Chelsea FC has reportedly been terminated less than a year after it was signed. The three-year agreement was believed to be worth about £2 million ($2.5 million) a year and was announced last July. The partnership, which made the flag carrier the club’s global […]

Francis Ngannou (left) fighting Tyson Fury in Riyadh last year for the heavyweight title

Saudi Arabia gives boxing a chance to reinvent itself

World heavyweight champion Tyson Fury is no stranger to hyperbole. Thus only a few eyebrows were raised when he boldly claimed that boxing would be “dead” if it wasn’t for Saudi Arabia. The sport was looking decidedly punch-drunk before Saudi Arabia entered the ring almost six years ago. The first boxing card in Jeddah that […]

Former Chicago Cubs player Andrelton Simmons, pictured here in 2022, is one of Baseball United's co-owners. The company will launch franchises in three Saudi cities

Baseball United to launch Saudi franchises

Professional baseball teams are to be launched in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam as part of plans by Baseball United to expand into Saudi Arabia. Baseball United was unveiled in August last year with ambitious proposals to launch the first professional baseball league in the Middle East, focusing initially on matches in the UAE, then Qatar, […]

The racetrack at Qiddiya is designed by Austrian former Formula One driver Alex Wurz and German circuit designer Hermann Tilke

Qiddiya’s new racetrack bids for world motorsports crown

Saudi giga-project Qiddiya will host a new racetrack in an attempt to become one of the world’s top motorsport venues. Located in Qiddiya city, the speed park track is slated to host the world’s most prestigious racing events, Qiddiya Investment Company, the project developer, said in a statement. Designed by Austrian former Formula One driver […]

Crowd, Person, Adult ATP chief executive officer Massimo Calvelli and PIF head of corporate affairs Kevin Foster sign the sponsorship agreement

Saudi wealth fund becomes sponsor for ATP Tour  

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has become the official naming partner of the ATP rankings, part of its wider sponsorship of men’s tennis governing body. The Public Investment Fund will partner with ATP Tour events in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing and the Nitto ATP Finals, in addition to the Next Gen ATP Finals, hosted […]

Emirates basketball NBA cup

Emirates airline signs big US basketball sponsorship deal

Emirates, the Dubai airline, has signed a sponsorship deal with the National Basketball Association in the United States that will see the NBA’s in-season tournament renamed the Emirates NBA Cup. Emirates will become the association’s official airline partner and referees’ kits will feature the airline’s logo. The airline’s patch will also be featured on the […]

Helmet, People, Person

Saudi Arabia nears deal to create new cycling league  

SRJ Sports Investments, wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), has backed a new cycling league, Reuters reported, citing three people familiar with the matter. The company, founded last year, is negotiating a potential investment of €250 million ($270 million) in the venture, which is spearheaded by major European cycling teams. If successful, this […]

Arsenal's Declan Rice in action. Dubai real estate developer Sobha Realty has secured the naming rights for Arsenal's training ground

Sobha Realty strikes sponsorship deal with Arsenal

Dubai real estate developer Sobha Realty has secured the naming rights for the training ground of English Premier League football club Arsenal. Arsenal’s facility in Hertfordshire will be known as the Sobha Realty Training Centre. It is the first time the naming rights have been sold. The deal is part of Sobha’s plan to expand […]

Gloucester score against Leicester Tigers during a Gallagher Premiership match. PIF is said to be interested in buying a stake in both teams

Saudi’s PIF ‘in talks’ to invest in British rugby

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is said to be in talks to buy stakes in four British rugby clubs.   British media has reported that discussions are taking place to pay a total of £60 million ($76 million) for shares in a quartet of top-tier clubs: Gloucester, Leicester Tigers, Newcastle Falcons and Northampton Saints.  This […]

The Saudi fitness sector has growth potential as currently gym members make up only 3.7 percent of the population

Fitness brands shape up for Saudi expansion plans

GymNation, founded in Dubai, has revealed plans to open 50 new fitness centres in Saudi Arabia as it seeks to capitalise on the kingdom’s billion-dollar fitness industry. The mid-market brand was set up six years ago and currently operates 11 gyms in the emirate, with a further six set to open before the summer. Founder […]

Seven launches Formula E branded indoor karting venues

Saudi Entertainment Ventures (Seven), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), and London-headquartered Formula E will jointly build multiple Formula E-branded indoor karting venues across the kingdom. The Formula E karting attractions are set to be built at four of Seven entertainment destinations in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and Abha. Each attraction will […]

seven-time World Snooker Championship winner Ronnie O’Sullivan is among the top-rank players taking part in the Saudi event

Saudi ‘golden ball’ rule cues up snooker controversy

Saudi Arabia will host its first major snooker tournament in Riyadh in March, though the deal has aroused controversy because of a new “golden ball” rule.  The Riyadh Season World Masters of Snooker is the latest in a series of top sports events the kingdom is organising during the first months of 2024.  The Riyadh […]