Thursday, 8 December, 2022

Saudi oil giant Aramco to sponsor cricket's world body: statement

Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco is to sponsor major events organised by cricket's world governing body, the company said Friday, as the conservative kingdom took another big step into the global sports industry.

Saudi Aramco, one of the world's richest companies, will sponsor the International Cricket Council's upcoming men's and women's T20 World Cups and next year's one-day World Cup in India under a partnership deal.

Aramco, which scored record profits as oil prices surged following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, will also sponsor the World Test Championship final in Britain and player-of-the-match awards at all major tournaments.

The partnership to run until the end of next year "will connect Aramco with a global cricket audience of more than one billion cricket fans", the Aramco statement said.

No value was announced for the deal, which is the latest in a series of sports investments as Saudi Arabia tries to soften its austere image and diversify its oil-dependent economy.

The investments include F1, heavyweight boxing, the purchase of English Premier League football club Newcastle United and the breakaway LIV Golf tour, whose first event on Saudi soil started on Friday.

The Gulf state's expanding sports portfolio has drawn accusations of "sportswashing", or using high-profile events to distract from its human rights record.

Saudi Arabia and the United States, a long-standing ally, have publicly clashed this week over an OPEC+ cut in crude production after Washington complained it would boost Russia's income from oil.