Last week, Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, did all of us journalists a solid by just admitting that the act of a sovereign government owning a professional soccer team was, in fact, sportswashing. It's always been sportswashing, but now there is no doubt.
"If sportswashing [is] going to increase my GDP [gross domestic product] by way of 1%, then I will continue doing sportswashing," he said. "I don't care."
On Wednesday, one of MBS' sportswashing projects, Newcastle United, will host one of Qatar's sportswashing projects, Paris Saint-Germain, in their first home Champions League game in 20 years. While the aims of both projects aren't specifically aligned -- Qatar and Saudi Arabia want different things -- the soccer clubs themselves have no real contemporaries other than themselves.
The only other sovereign-wealth-funded club, Manchester City, has already conquered the sport. And the other richest clubs in the world -- Real Madrid, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, and so on -- all have some kind of desire to turn a profit, increase revenue, see their valuations increase, or at least vaguely gesture at the idea of "being a business."
PSG and Newcastle, meanwhile, don't need to produce revenue for their owners or increase their valuations so they can one day be sold by their owners at a profit. They only need to increase revenue so they can spend more of their comparatively unlimited money within the structures of UEFA's financial fair play regulations.
When your only real goal is to spend as much money as possible to create the best soccer team possible, what do you do? Newcastle and PSG might want to try to be more like each other.