- Nov 26, 2015
Just money really. More exposure to sport = people start to affiliate you with sport and not other things. I'd say the reputation has definitely improved even if I just think of my friendship/professional networks. Re the bolded it would be a positive outcome but I think the problem is the trade off seems very unequal, how much really do you think Saudi will change its attitude towards LGBTQ for example? There is a definite sense of doing the absolute minimum for the maximum gain which raises the question of will they revert back to those practices once they get to a place they feel they are less reliant on external opinion.What exactly is the practice though? And how are we assessing it's efficacy?
People have been going to the Middle East for sport for a while now. What has changed recently is the scale of the investment to overcome the lack of desirability of these places as sporting destinations, which draws more events and the heavy outflows of investment into sport beyond the region. What is unclear is the causal link between invest in sports --> more sporting events --> everyone forgets about our human rights record and thinks we are an amazing place, so we can continue with our repressive practices.
People definitively say that the reputation has improved, but on what basis? Is money the predominant driver of increased sports activity? Or an enhanced reputation? Is there a point at which the "investment" in money will result in a durably improved reputation such that these places will be thought of as destinations of first resort even when the money stops flowing to the same extent? For sportswashing to be deemed to have "worked", does that mean that these places can continue to engage in their malign practices to the same degree, even as sports activity and tourism ramps up? If they move away from and moderate on undesirable beliefs and practices in order to accommodate more tourism and sporting attention, is that a bad thing?
I think the soft power/tourism explanation is probably at the heart of the activity, but a lot of the discussion around it lacks clarity and rigor.