The elite of the European basket, already present for many years as far as Tel Aviv (Israel), will it push back its borders by 2,500 km? Dubai is in any case in negotiations with the Euroleague so that a franchise based in the emirate eventually joins the second largest basketball competition, behind the NBA, said this Monday Abdallah al-Naboudah, businessman and Dubai club owner. “Negotiations with the Euroleague started eight months ago. They aim to include a club from Dubai in the prestigious tournament and to host certain matches in the city, at the Coca-Cola Arena (17,000 seats)”, continues Abdallah al-Naboudah, president of the very young Dubai Basketball Club.
“There is nothing official yet, the negotiations are continuing”, but “the first signals are positive”, adds the latter. The businessman nevertheless denied information reported by certain European media, according to which Dubai had offered 50 to 60 million euros to associate the name of the local airline company Emirates Airlines with the competition. “We haven’t talked about naming rights, since the championship has a commercial partner [Turkish Airlines] until 2025”, assures the person concerned.
Sport washing is skyrocketing in the Gulf?
The Euroleague had already confirmed discussions for a “potential collaboration” with Abdallah al-Naboudah and representatives of the emirate, as part of a visit to Dubai on October 11. The 13 shareholder clubs of the Euroleague, a league closed by invitation, then went to the United Arab Emirates. “We convinced the Euroleague and the clubs in Dubai to discuss and propose the idea of a future collaboration, as well as to show them our abilities on the ground”, says Abdallah al-Naboudah, understanding the interest “d ‘include a club from Dubai’ in the Euroleague. The capital of the Emirates, Abu Dhabi, hosted the Milwaukee Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks in October for two NBA preseason games.
“Of course, we are excited about the potential for a Euroleague basketball in the United Arab Emirates, but it is still too early to go into details,” said Euroleague CEO Marshall Glickman. in a statement after the Oct. 11 meeting, saying he was “looking forward to further discussion.” The growing investment of the Gulf countries in the world of sport has aroused numerous criticisms from human rights organisations, which accuse them of engaging in “sport washing”. The Emirates, Bahrain and Arabia are all hosting Formula 1 Grands Prix this year, while Qatar is preparing to host the FIFA World Cup from November 20 to December 18. The Saudi kingdom also hosted the LIV Golf circuit this year, which poached some of the world’s best players with record prize money, angering golf’s historic bodies.