Media perceptions of Arab investment in European football clubs: the case of Malaga and Paris Saint-Germain

2013-06-06T09:12:25Z (GMT) by Borja Garcia-Garcia Mahfoud Amara
One of the most visible consequences of the recent liberalisation and commercialisation of European football is the growing levels of Arab capital investment in the European football market. Several professional football clubs have been taken over by Arab investors in England, France and Spain. This paper seeks to explore the perceptions about Arab investment in the European football market. Set against a background of mistrust towards foreign citizens in the continent, the paper aims to ascertain the perception of recent Arab investment in European football markets. This is a first stage in a larger project that will include, in due course, a wider selection of case studies and a wider variety of media outlets in the analysis. This paper presents the case studies of two clubs recently taken over by Arab investors: Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in France, and Málaga CF in Spain. The paper sets to elucidate, whether Arab investment is perceived an opportunity for development or as a risk for the identity of the clubs, or both. To do so, the case studies address three different dimensions: Economic, regulatory, and identity. The paper employs a qualitative methodology through thematic analysis of selected publications in the French and Spanish press. In terms of structure the paper first discusses the global and local dynamics of sport in Arabian Peninsula, particularly the network between business and politics. In the second section addresses the question of the governance of football in relation to the shift of power from Europe and South America to elsewhere in the world. The last section is devoted to the analysis of the case studies: PSG owned by Qatar Sport Investment and Málaga CF (hereon with referred simply as Málaga) owned by Qatari Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al-Thani. The main conclusion of our analysis is that Arab investment in these two clubs has been cautiously welcome. There is a dual discourse whereby positive perceptions of the takeovers are constantly counterbalanced with apprehension with a possible lost of the clubs’ history and local identity. It is difficult to separate the positive and the negative perceptions in the discourse. Both run in parallel constantly and it is not possible to conclude whether one or the other is prevalent.