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Saudis Poised To Make Another High-Profile Sports Move

  • An investment would follow recent cooperation and development agreement between Saudi Arabia and Confederation of African Football.
  • Saudi Arabia has actively sought to use sports investments to rehabilitate its image.
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There’s another proposed “super league” in soccer poised to net a sizable financial boost — this time in Africa, courtesy of Saudi Arabia.

The Guardian reports the Confederation of African Football is in talks with Saudi Arabia on a $200 million deal to support the new African Super League, a move that also would theoretically aid the country in winning hosting rights for a future FIFA World Cup.

Somewhat mirroring the themes of the prior, ill-fated Super League proposal in Europe, the African tournament plans to offer $100 million in prizes, including $11.6 million for the winner — more than five times the top prize for the current CAF Champions League. 

CAF and FIFA announced plans for an African Super League last year. That effort, however, is now targeted to begin with the 2024-25 season — to coincide with the start of the Saudi sponsorship — in a reduced, eight-team format.

The Saudi involvement also builds on a recent, five-year cooperation and development agreement between the CAF and Saudi Arabian Football Foundation. CAF has been seeking firmer financial footing since the 2019 termination of a $1 billion rights agreement with Lagardére. 

The initiative also represents the latest attempt by Saudi Arabia — a country widely rebuked in global circles for its poor record on human rights — to use sports as a means to help boost its international standing. 

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is the lead backer of LIV Golf, another high-profile investment that has attracted controversy and debate. 

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