Saudi Arabia has been causing quite a stir in the world of sport recently, with the question now being asked if college football could be its next target. The proposition comes in light of the nation’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) efforts to develop a stronger global sports presence.
The PIF’s abundant resources have already seen football star Cristiano Ronaldo join the Saudi national league and the country has hosted nine World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) events and various Formula 1 races. Considering these developments, some speculate that Saudi Arabia could tap into the world of college football next, a move seen by some insiders as imminent.
In a survey of four athletic directors (ADs), opinions varied. One gave a definite no, two saw it as likely, while the fourth suggested it was a possibility, but far from plain sailing.
While college football may not have the international appeal of other sports, its connections with American higher education could be a significant draw for Saudi Arabia, which is actively pursuing ways to gain global influence and reshaping external perceptions of its nation.
The cost to make an impact within college football is unlikely to be a stumbling block for the PIF. As one AD pointed out, “$100 million is a rounding error to the PIF.” Further investment into a collective to help schools purchase or retain football talent is likely well within their means.
The chances of such an occurrence happening within the next five to ten years is considered high by some. The opportunity for a university to align with such resources could indeed initiate proactive moves towards an agreement.