Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), has made a notable move in the world of sports by acquiring a minority stake in the Professional Fighters League (PFL). This investment comes as part of the kingdom’s ongoing efforts to boost its sports industry and attract major global events to Saudi Arabia.
The deal was finalized by a new company called SRJ Sports Investments, which is owned by the PIF. The PIF has been actively seeking opportunities to develop the country’s sports sector as part of the Vision 2030 reform agenda, which aims to rebrand Saudi Arabia as a global business and tourism destination.
The investment in the PFL is seen as a means to nurture local and regional talent in martial arts, promote gender equality in sports, and bring new opportunities to Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. It is expected to contribute to the growth of mixed martial arts (MMA) in the country.
Saudi Arabia’s interest in MMA has been evident in recent years, with the country hosting the Desert Force competition in 2014 and establishing a national MMA foundation. Additionally, two Saudi fighters, Abdullah al-Qahtani and Mostafa Rashed Neda, recently achieved success at high-profile bouts in New York’s Madison Square Garden, organized by the PFL.
Looking ahead, the PFL plans to launch a regional league in Saudi Arabia next year and host other mega-events in the country. While the financial details of the deal were not disclosed, the Financial Times reported it to be around $100 million.
Saudi Arabia’s involvement in various sporting ventures, including golf, Formula One, and football, has drawn criticism in the past, with some accusing the country of using sports as a distraction from human rights concerns. However, Saudi Arabia remains committed to developing its sports industry and leveraging it as a tool for economic growth and social progress.
Overall, the acquisition of a stake in the PFL by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund marks another significant step in the country’s ongoing sports investment push. It represents a commitment to nurturing local talent, promoting gender equality, and positioning Saudi Arabia as a premier destination for global sports events.
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