GP Saudi Arabia: Formula 1 Welcomes Cristiano Ronaldo and Co.

Formula 1: Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. - THESE stars come to the GP Saudi Arabia

Formula 1: When Sports Washing Takes Over

Formula 1 has always been associated with the world of the beautiful, famous, and rich. However, in recent years, the sport has become a tool for “sports washing,” where countries rich in oil but poor in democracy and human rights use sport to draw attention away from their faults. The strategy has been successful in bringing in a wide range of celebrities, not because they are racing fans, but because they are bought.

Countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar have paid millions of euros to host the Grands Prix. Such events draw in top celebrities like Cristiano Ronaldo, Will Smith, and Pavel Nedved, making these superstars part of their propaganda scam, a tactic that showcases their countries’ financial power while hiding their social, political, and ethical issues.

Formula 1’s 15-year contract with Saudi Arabia is but one example of a partnership that highlights the contradiction between the glamour of the sport and the reality of daily life in these countries. Last year alone, Saudi Arabia executed 81 people in a single day. With such a tarnished record, it’s difficult to understand how Formula 1 can justify its connections with these countries.

As Stefano Domenicali, Formula 1’s boss, continues to emphasize the need to drive change through the sport, it’s hard not to feel the sport’s disconnect from what’s happening outside the race tracks. Meanwhile, the celebrities who come to these events become advertising characters for rogue states and puppets for the sheikhs – their presence part of a larger sports-washing scheme.

In addition, the constant flow of superstars to these races has helped create an image of the world of the beautiful and rich that caters to sponsors but does little to address the precarious situation of the people who live in these countries. There may be worse commitments than watching the races in the Formula 1 VIP box, but it’s clear that the sport needs to look beyond the lucrative deals these countries offer and focus on being a force for good in the world.

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