August 02, 2023

The Corruption of Sportswashing Comes Home to Washington

If you’re visiting Washington, D.C., here’s a walking tour to try out. Buy a ticket to a show or sporting event at Capitol One arena, then head inside, snaking your way to section 113/114. Stop: You’ll see an exhibit bearing the State of Qatar’s coat of arms. After the event ends, take a short stroll northwest to CityCenter, settling into the plaza where pedestrian meets pricey. Stop: You’ll spot an Hermès, a Louis Vuitton, a Bulgari, and more, all built by real estate developer Qatari Diar. After a little shopping, hike uptown, traversing the blocks of nondescript buildings stacked between H and L Streets. Again, stop: You’ll have walked by the offices of Portland PR, Blueprint Advisors, and Mercury Public Affairs—three of Qatar’s top paid lobbyists. If, at this point, you’ve soured on the tour, then I’m sorry to say that D.C. may not be for you.

Qatari capital is among the country’s most formidable tools for manipulating the West.

The nation’s capital is awash in foreign money meant to influence U.S. politics—that much has been true for years. But the recent news that the Qatar Investment Authority, or QIA, had bought a $200 million stake in the parent company of D.C.’s pro basketball and hockey teams takes the foreign influence game to another level. This is the first time a sovereign wealth fund, or SWF, has acquired a financial foothold in American sports. Up until now, Qatari dollars infiltrated the sector in other ways. And while QIA’s stake in Washington’s sports franchises stands at a mere 5 percent, if this move is anything like the ones the Gulf government has made in sports franchises the world over, then our walking tour will soon have to add more stops.

Read the full article from The New Republic.