Incoming investment from Middle Eastern nations like Saudi Arabia, according to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, is a double-edged sword in light of the recent PGA and LIV Golf merger.

The commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver spoke candidly about the league’s potential impacts from the recent PGA and LIV Golf merger. Silver outlined the reasons why investment from Saudi Arabia might have both positive and negative effects in an interview with The Dan Patrick Show on Thursday.

NBA on the golf merger

Adam Silver stated on Thursday that he was not shocked by the merging of the PGA Tour and LIV Golf and that, as a golf enthusiast, he thought the conflict between the two organisations was beginning to harm players. The Public Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth fund owned by the Saudi Arabian government and the owner of LIV Golf, will make a major financial investment in the PGA Tour as part of the agreement.

Image source: The Economic Times

The revelation has also raised concerns about the extent to which PIF and the Saudi government will be able to influence the sports industry through additional investments. Some have viewed the merger, along with the PIF’s prior sports transactions, as an effort by the Saudi government to use sports to repair its reputation.

The English Premier League team Newcastle United was already purchased by Saudi-backed PIF, which was also rumoured to be interested in purchasing the WWE. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused the Saudi government of repression in addition to depriving women and girls of their rights.

Silver’s thoughts as NBA commissioner

On Thursday afternoon’s episode of “The Dan Patrick Show,” Silver discussed Saudi Arabia’s involvement in sports and noted that basketball and golf are both international games.

When the Saudis invest in sports, it garners disproportionate attention, according to Silver in response to a question regarding the merger. Since they also desire excessive attention, he does not want to voice his displeasure over it. They are investors in some of their biggest American firms, he continued. They have assets in some of the most well-known brands. And he believes it to be kind of a two-edged sword.

Image source: The Dan Patrick Show

Silver added that he is aware of the remarks concerning sports washing. On the other hand, he believes that, similar to how the football World Cup garnered a great deal of attention for Qatar, people learn about those nations and what’s going on in the world in ways they otherwise wouldn’t. He believes the media accomplishes its job because of this.

He continued by saying that, with regard to the NBA in particular, a global sport, he believes that people these days are a little too dismissive of the advantages of shared interests in sports. He continued by saying that a sport like basketball offers a chance to unite individuals.

NBA’s stance on Saudi investment

Last year, the NBA modified its regulations to add pension funds and university endowments to the list of permitted investors by allowing sovereign wealth funds to purchase minority holdings in NBA clubs. Sovereign wealth funds are restricted to owning no more than 20% of a team, similar to private equity funds.

No Saudi-backed fund has attempted to invest in an NBA team, according to Silver. He said they don’t control teams but do allow funds to invest in them. Because of this, someone needs to possess a specific percentage of an NBA franchise in order to govern it.

Image source: Wired

This has made it possible for PIF or other sovereign wealth funds to make investments or seek to make investments, which may bring the league a lot of money and controversy. Many of the biggest funds in the world have ties to nations that have been accused of violating human rights.

The NBA emphasised that it can reject any prospective investor and will carefully consider bids when allowing sovereign wealth funds to invest in a franchise.

I am currently an undergraduate student pursuing a course in English at Christ (Deemed to be University), Bangalore.

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