'Shame On You': Nadal Comes Under Fire After Becoming Saudi Tennis Ambassador

'Shame On You': Nadal Comes Under Fire After Becoming Saudi Tennis Ambassador

by Nurein Ahmed

Rafael Nadal was unveiled as Saudi Arabia's tennis ambassador and shared the update on his official social media pages, which has generated some very strong reactions.

The 37-year-old tennis legend is the first high-profile tennis player to foster ties with Saudi Arabia in a tennis-related deal, reportedly in millions of dollars. During his presentation at the Saudi Tennis Federation (STF) premises, Nadal explained his goal of promoting tennis around the Gulf Kingdom.

With his unparalleled charisma and a long list of tennis accomplishments, the 22-time Grand Slam champion was unquestionably the most suitable candidate for this role. His formal partnership with the kingdom will see him aid the development of the sport in the region.

Saudi Arabia has emerged as a global hub of sports and entertainment. It is one of the major players taking the sporting world by storm in recent years through its extravagant spending on an array of international sports events and stars.

But Nadal's move has been lauded as controversial by several media outlets because of Saudi Arabia's past record on human rights. As such, some journalists have pinned the country's colossal spending on sportswashing, which the country's de facto leader has mentioned is not his concern as long as it boosts his economy.

Nadal's decision to become the ambassador of STF is a major step by Saudi Arabia in diversifying its investment in tennis. However, the Spaniard has received a lot of criticism on social media platform X (formerly Twitter).

One user wrote, "I was the biggest Nadal fan ever. But I'm crying in my room right now, knowing that he isn't the good guy which I thought he was. He sold himself for some oil money. I cannot go back to being the young kid who lived his wins like they were his own. It's over. I'm done with him."

A lot of the comments seem to be in consensus that Nadal was motivated by money. Another declared, "Shame on you. So disappointed. Selling yourself just for some oil money."

Some WTA players like Jessica Pegula have spoken against playing in Saudi Arabia but feel it will inevitably happen. It is rumored that the 2024 WTA Finals will be held there, and there are negotiations for staging the Billie Jean King Cup Finals there next year.

And in light of that, one user said, "Did you ask the women in your life or the women in the WTA about what it means to them before making a decision like this? I’m disappointed you didn’t take this opportunity to voice to the world your care and concern for marginalized women by publicly turning them down. Money talks."

One disgruntled user wrote, "No money is enough money. You are promoting sports washing on behalf of a corrupt regime. Yikes!" While most of the comments were focused on the negative, there were quite a number of positive reactions, especially from the Saudi fans.

"Great step. We welcome you to our country," one fan remarked. While another one was clearly looking forward to a new dawn, "A good start for the Kingdom project with the Spanish international star Rafael Nadal."


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