Formula 1 in Saudi Arabia: between morality and millions

The question of the mass executions in the next host country parrines the Formula 1 boss with proven routine. “The news is quite alarming, of course. I firmly believe that sport should put human rights into the center, as well as the land we go,” says Stefano Domenicali in front of the race in Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, the motto for the race series, even if the kingdom has just executed 81 people within a single day.

The handling of Formula 1 with Saudi Arabia, which experiences a Grand Prix on Sunday in Jeddah for the second time, is representative of the dilemma of sport. Looking for fresh money and new markets, sports operations and rights owners have long been bound to doubtful partners. “In an ideal world, their own values ​​match those of investors and sponsoring brands together, but in reality, however, the financial requirement plays a weighty role,” says Mathias Bernhardt, Managing Director of Research and Consultancy Nielsen Sports.

Formula One urged to 'reconsider their strategy' ahead of Bahrain & Saudi Arabia Grands Prix

A delicate motive situation

Olympia in Beijing, the Football World Championships in Russia and Qatar, the entry of the Saudi State Fund at Newcastle United – in the selection of hosts and financiers, morality and human rights are not always the winners in sports and human rights. “What’s clear is that everyone in the end will need more money to finance the entertainment that the fans want to see,” explains Expert Bernhardt the delicate motive situation.

Saudi Arabia leads to war in Yemen

The Lucrative Deal with Russia has announced Formula 1 under the pressure of Ukraine war and hard sanctions. Neither this year in Sochi nor as actually agreed from 2023 in Vladimir Putin’s home St. Petersburg will drive the race series. Critics, however, point out that Saudi Arabia has also been a war in Yemen for years. This has triggered one of the worst current humanitarian catastrophes.

Just before the Grand Prix, Yemeni Huthi Rebels attacked several goals in Saudi Arabia, including a plant of Aramco near Jeddah. The oil company is one of the largest financiers of Formula 1. At Sebastian Vettel’s Team Aston Martin, the energy giant, which is largely in state ownership, is considered the title sponsor.

“You can clearly see the development of recent years that just states from the Arabic area understand that not only as a sports commitment, but as a political strategy. They want to be a positive image about the positively occupied topic sports, the emotions, the fans a positive image Get, “says expert Bernhardt.

Saudi Arabia gave his Formula 1 debut three months ago as a fourth host in this world region. Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar have also closed long-term contracts with the race series. These countries also throw organizations such as Amnesty International violations of human rights, oppression opposition and restriction of freedom of expression.

But also king football makes good business here. With its investments Manchester City, Abu Dhabi has made Deloitte’s sales-strongest club in Europe with its investments. Qatar has been doing the Star Ensemble of Paris Saint-Germain for years and invites to the desert World Cup in winter. With Saudi money, Newcastle United now wants to start again after drought years in the Premier League.

Allegedly for ten years 900 million US dollars entitus bonus

With his reform program “Vision 2030” Saudi Arabia wants to make independent from the oil until that year – even through investment abroad and just in sports. Formula 1 allegedly conceded $ 900 million for ten years. Human Rights Watch criticizes commitments like this sharp: “Saudi Arabia has repeatedly used prominent personalities and international major events in the past to distract from its widespread human rights violations.”

Saudi Arabia Sports Minister considers this image of his country for falsification. The Islamic-conservative kingdom wanted to develop a better society, emphasizes Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki al-Faisal. “We are not perfect, but that’s nobody. We move in the right direction,” he says. Top sports events would help the country on his way to the opening, the minister will know before the race.

It must be our priority to make pressure for long-lasting change.

Lewis Hamilton

Sports functionaries on their part criticism often with the reference that the sport is unpolitical. Formula 1 Managing Director Domenicali also assures: “The fact that we are on site, the headlamp light on topics that would otherwise appear in the news elsewhere.”

Record World Champion Lewis Hamilton urges his driver’s colleagues to use their range with fans to point out abuses. “It must be our priority to work together for a long-lasting change,” says the Mercedes pilot. As so often, only the question remains to what extent these voices can roam the engine transfer in Jeddah.

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