The flag that the Investcorp Fund of Bahrain – at the hands of its president Mohammed Al Ardhi – is planting in Italy is just una of the many that the Arabs have sown around the world in recent years. They are buying the Soccer-Cakeone piece at a time, surpassing the Russian oligarchs (their time is up) and the Chinese adventurers (never too exposed) and effectively outclassing large American groups in terms of liquidity; but in truth they are doing something more: by branding with iron, fire and petrodollars the system of a world that has emerged bloodless from the two years of the pandemic and in need of money and investments. It is a process that found its showcase in the assignment (2010) of the November-December World Cup in Qatar.
Well: with the purchase of Milan, we will also have the first Arab property in our league. More will come, you can be sure. Elsewhere, in Europe and in the world, we know it well, it is already a custom. PSG has been Arab for over a decade: it was in fact 2011 when Sheikh Nasser Al-Khelaifi, through Qatar Sports Investments, bought 70% of the club and a year later – evaluating the entire operation 170 million euros – bought the club for good. Manchester City is Arab-owned in England (Abu Dhabi United Group, United Arab Emirates) and the Newcastle (Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia); but also Wigan, which belongs to Talal Al-Hammad (Bahrain) and Sheffield United (United World Group, Saudi Arabia): a real colonization, with an availability of money that is marking a border and diversifying purchases. To say: the masters of Sheffield are the same as Beerschot, Belgian club of the Pro League and also of Châteauroux, a club that plays in the French third series.
For Arab crooks, football is a form – one of many, but the most popular – of entertainment. They treat it as such, and have long understood it. Ever since – it was 2004 – Emirates Airlinesthe flagship airline of the Arab Emirate of Dubai and owned by the government, began sponsoring Arsenal, with a sponsorship contract worth 100 million pounds and the construction of the stadium (which in fact today is called Emirates Stadium).
By connecting the dots it turns out that the City Football Group – subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi United Group fund (the same as the City, whose reference figure is the well-known Sheikh Mansour) – owns the Troyes in France (very young club, it was founded in 1986, which has been doing up and down between Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 for years), in Spain of Girona (Segunda Division), in Belgium of Lommel (Pro League 1B, second series)in Uruguay of the Montevideo City Torquebought in 2017 and immediately brought to the Uruguayan top flight, in India of Mumbai City Fc (first division) e in China’s Sichuan Fc. Europe, Asia, South America: here the Arab Caliphate, to you world. Usually the leaders of these large groups prefer to remain in the shadows, the exception is constituted by Turki Al-Sheikh, owner of Almeria, a club that is fighting in the Spanish Segunda Division in an attempt to move up to the Liga. Turki Al-Sheikh, 40-year-old Saudi, writer, singer, someone who defines himself as a “showman”, always gets photographed wearing the official club shirt and when he bought the Almeria he announced that he wanted to “bring Messi around here. five years “. He wasn’t kidding.
Then there are companies that are moving under the radar – or at least, a step aside from the limelight – but planning for the future. The Aspire Zone Foundation – a foundation of Qatar with almost unlimited resources of wealth – has had in its portfolio for ten years the Eupen, a Belgian Pro League team, and the Cultural Leonesa, a Spanish club that plays in the Primera Division, the third series of the Spanish league. One would think that the Qatari ownership would take very little to pour a mountain of money on these two clubs and bring them to the top of their countries within a few years. If they have not done so yet, it is only because this is what their strategy foresees.