The ball may be round but football is becoming increasingly Arabic: Oil money and the rise of the new football order

Salma Thani, Thomas Heenan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    In 1977 the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recruited the former Leeds United and England manager, Don Revie, to manage the national football team. Revie’s recruitment heralded the Gulf States’ entry into football’s international sphere, which has reshaped the game’s political economy. Confronted by the need to diversify oil monies housed in sovereign wealth funds, Gulf States, most notably the UAE and Qatar, have invested broadly in football. This investment has reshaped football boundaries globally, though not without controversy. It has fuelled allegations of corruption in the bidding process for the 2022 World Cup, inflated player salaries and helped create super-elite European clubs. In doing so, it has eroded the significance of traditional national based competitions and cups. The continuation of this trend will eventually remould elite club football into a competition between mega club brands, either sponsored or owned by resource-rich states like the UAE and Qatar.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1012-1026
    Number of pages15
    JournalSoccer and Society
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2017

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