Mohammed bin Salman: The most powerful man in football?

Heroes & Humans of Football

16-05-2024 • 45 mins

Mohammed bin Salman may be the most influential person in global football, even though he doesn’t seem to like the game. In 2021, the Saudi millennial crown prince became the ultimate owner of Newcastle United, when the Premier League club was bought by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. The country’s de facto leader is also pumping billions into the Saudi Pro League, where Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar are on the crown’s payroll. MBS is almost certain to win the ultimate prize of hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2034, and probably also the Women’s World Cup 2035 – despite Saudi Arabia’s not very woman-friendly reputation. All this for a man who seems to have never taken an interest in football, neither as a fan nor as a player. In 2014, hardly anyone even in Saudi Arabia had heard of him. How did he go from a nobody to the most powerful ruler in the country’s history? And why did he then jump into football? Mehreen and Simon chart the life of a once unremarkable, and not very wealthy, lowly prince, who has risen to become the most authoritarian leader in Saudi’s modern history. It’s a story of a rapid rise to the top, dictatorial power, extra-judicial killings, and trillions of dollars that are being deployed to refashion the Saudi economy. With his nation’s petrodollars, MbS is now taking over golf, Formula 1, and even snooker. But MbS’s most controversial foray into global sport is the world’s most popular game. Why is MBS in football, and will he stay? Timestamps: 00:01:04 - Introducing Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) 00:01:32 - Mehreen discusses her connection to Saudi Arabia as a Muslim 00:03:02 - Discussion of MBS's background and rise to power in Saudi Arabia 00:06:44 - MBS locking up his own mother early in his reign 00:08:25 - MBS's attempts to modernise and reform Saudi Arabia 00:12:19 - MBS's envy of Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup 00:14:13 - MBS's appearance at the 2018 World Cup opening match in Russia 00:16:15 - The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents 00:20:28 - MBS's decision to host the 2034 and likely 2035 World Cups in Saudi Arabia 00:23:24 - MBS's purchase of Newcastle United FC 00:28:10 - Saudi investments in bringing star players to the Saudi Pro League 00:32:42 - Analysis of MBS's motivations for investing heavily in football/sports 00:39:19 - Comparing MBS to Roman Abramovich's ownership of Chelsea FC 00:42:37 - What career MBS might have had if not a Saudi prince Follow @heroesandhumans everywhere. Instagram TikTok Facebook X Visit our website for news & updates