The reality of the current times is that sports is an integral part of the modern-day civilization that cut across international boundaries. At present, the situation in Saudi Arabia is a constrained arrangement headed by the government that oversees and operationalizes almost all portions of society. By sharp contrast, the mechanism in France offers a distinct separation of powers and existence for its sports sector that allows it to prosper compared to that in Saudi Arabia. A careful review of the situation in France compared to that in Saudi Arabia would provide clear information that would undoubtedly help Saudi Arabia. The approach used in France is responsible for the admirable level of performance and development noted in French football leagues. Typically, the notable challenges facing Saudi Arabian sports include financial complications, lack of competitiveness, low popularity, and political influence. The challenges identified above form the basis of the arguments presented in this report in part of fulfilling the quest to improve the standing of sports in Saudi Arabia. Ultimately, the Saudi Arabian industry could borrow heavily from practices in France if it intends to be successful and competitive in the long run.
The current situation is Saudi Arabia entails a strict government involvement and regulation of the sports teams in the professional league. The government serves as the sole benefactor for the clubs by directly dictating their financial and professional obligations which essentially makes them non-profit organization. Such entities depend entirely on government allocation to budget for their obligations and daily operations, which sharply contrasts the practices across leading leagues in the world (Dorsey, 2015). That arrangement could prove to be popular to opinions that argue against the commercialization of football, which would bring about negative repercussions to the sporting industry. Ownership by the government provides more control over the sports industry where the government has the authority to intervene in contentious cases that arise in daily sports management scenarios. The nonprofit nature of such clubs minimizes their exposure to some of the ethical challenges that face modern football clubs in Frances such as illegal gambling and money laundering among other ethical challenges (Franck, 2014). Such ethical constraints are conspicuously absent from the Saudi Arabian Leagues given that the government uses strict guidelines to regulate acceptable conduct between players, coaching staff members, and the league as a whole.
By sharp contrast, the French football league is a privatized arrangement that allows consortiums, individuals, and other private entities to own the club. Private ownership in the French Ligue One, is responsible for the immense investment in some of the popular clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain, Olympique de Marseille, and Olympique Lyonnais. Such practices are also conspicuously present in professional football leagues across Germany, Spain, and England, where clubs have become major sports brands (Holt, 2007). Typically, the privatization arrangement imbues such clubs with the financial freedom to improve the sports infrastructures they own and adds a competitive edge to their existence. The government operates on a limited budget that might not meet all the needs required in operating a football club in the modern-day, which works countercurrent to the primary intentions of the sports industry. The world football regulating FIFA provides strict regulations that demand the independence of local football associations from interference by government politics. FIFA implemented changes to its guidance programs that allow it to ban teams that have government involvement in operational affairs as part of its attempt to discourage government involvement.
In hindsight, the approach adopted by the government is not only in efficiency, but counterproductive to the primary intentions of the sports sector. Admittedly, the approach adopted by the Saudi Arabian government helps avoid some of the legal and ethical crimes that are synonymous with professional leagues across the globe with minimal or no government involvement. The arrangement with Saudi Arabia ostensibly prevents money laundering through the private institutions since the government is accountable for all funds allocated and used by the football. The problem is a global phenomenon that contributed to the introduction of the “financial fair play” regulations to regulate the influx of financial support from unaccredited sources (Franck, 2014). From a legal point of view, both approaches adopted by Saudi Arabia and France have a profound impact on the role of sports in the modern day. The risks attached to either approach are significant, but the conditions in Saudi Arabia are more pragmatic and counterproductive in the development of sports as an essential part of modern-day society (Dorsey, 2015). The ideal legal approach would entail the introduction of legislative regulations to oversee the privatization process and subsequent laws to sustain its presence in Saudi Arabia.
Lack of Competitiveness
The privatization of the professional football league guarantees that the entities that own those clubs are driven towards competing with other profit-oriented sports entities. The current arrangement with Saudi Arabia limits ownership of clubs within the government’s purview. The non-profit nature of such clubs affects their ability to compete with other competitive leagues across the globe. By regulations, such clubs operate as entities serving the particular needs under the patronage of the government, thereby guaranteeing financial support without accountability to stakeholders for profit. The legal stipulations in Saudi Arabia dictate every operational section of a club by submitting it to a government audit and intervention driven by evaluation results and the decision making for the powers that be (Dorsey, 2015). The stiff regulatory presence of the government, with legally enforceable repercussions, directly affects the performance of the club. For instance, guaranteed patronage from the government could foster complacency in performances due to the ‘financial safety’ offered by confirmed financial support regardless of performance (Berman, 2015). Typically, legal intervention in Saudi Arabia might not produce the right outcome unless the legislature reviews and revises the ownership structure and associated limitations.
The situation in France is significantly different given that the league is a profit-oriented arrangement with different clubs competing for all available honors. The league consists of several clubs owned by different entities that demand accountability in the use of resources to deliver compelling performances. The private organizations are subject to the overarching laws and regulations that control entrepreneurship and commercial transaction within the country. For instance, the players in each club are protected by employment regulations within France as evident from the use of contracts as well as the need for work permits (Holt, 2007). The rules and regulations that exist in France provide a stable legal environment for professionals in the league to perform their duties according to the terms of their contract. Additionally, the privatization process releases the clubs from all obligations to the government and allocates it to the stakeholders of each club. Consequently, the clubs have an inherent responsibility to improve their performances to record reasonable return on investments for the stakeholders. Such an arrangement is a testament to the success enjoyed by the French Ligue One, and other subsequent lower leagues, in the global context.
The ideal environment of competition entails allowing the football league, and the entire sports sector, to operate free of authoritative government influence. The typical legal approach would involve evaluating the systems in use by other countries with successful leagues with a view to establishing acceptable terms and conditions of operations. The process of privatization in Saudi Arabia will entail introducing new entrepreneurial and commercial entities within the sports industry. Privatization without accompanying legislature makes the proposed change susceptible to corruption of the primary intentions of the industry-wide change. Such a move would leave Saudi Arabia vulnerable to crimes mentioned earlier in this report where the law enforcement agencies lack legal grounds to pursue legal actions. Thus, the logical approach would be to use the template adopted by other sporting sectors across, such as the one used in France. Such an approach would allow the football clubs, for example, to pursue a healthy competitive existence which would spur further industry growth, enabling Saudi Arabia to compete with the rest of the world (Dorsey, 2015). Dependence on government patronage exposes the sports industry to unintended shortcomings which falter in comparison to the success witnessed in other nations.
At present, the practices in Saudi Arabia are counterproductive to the dream of improving the contributions of sporting activities to society in the country. The recent success of sporting activities, behind the aggressive commercialization of sports, is their popularity. The popularity of sports in Saudi Arabia is impossible to gauge to the exact quantity, particularly in the absence of proper incentives. The government’s involvement serves as the most notable obstacle to the popularity of various sporting activities within its borders. The extent of government involvement in the administration of sporting activities could have a direct bearing on the popularity of the sport in question. The non- profit nature of club football implies that the interaction of such clubs and sports facilities are limited to the dictations issued by the government (Dorsey, 2015). Thus, the corporate social responsibilities expected of those institutions are limited to the government’s definitions of social responsibility. Additionally, the existing laws and regulations might prevent outsourcing funds from the public other than the options prescribed by the existing rules. Thus, such clubs and sporting facilities embody the public service typical of other arms of government as opposed to popular entities supported by different members of society.
The current situation in France entails a clear allocation of ownership rights that allows some of the clubs to have closer bonds with residents living in the same locale as the football clubs. The privatization of such clubs is an essential component that ensures that such entities act within the prescribed regulations while forming closer bonds with the locale (Holt, 2007). The French league has a unique arrangement where the clubs must meet the stipulations of social responsibility through community outreach programs. Typically, the clubs operate as an extension of the community where they provide the local community with facilities for interactions and integration. The popularity of French clubs is notably strong within its location as the residents from its surroundings provide it with support and identity from the rest of the teams from all over France (Holt, 2007). The popularity of such clubs and their integration with the local communities translates to impressive match attendances during matches played as the home team and partially as the away team. Such levels of popularity are absent in Saudi Arabia, where the government is in charge of sports, and its responsibility ends with the acceptable threshold of public performance.
The sentiments expressed under this subsection suggests that the popularity of the football clubs and sporting franchises are dependent on the success they achieve on-field and the identity they cultivate with the locals. The ability of the clubs to engage in social responsibility and community outreach programs helps to cultivate an identity or belonging with the locals who contribute to the popularity of the sporting activity. Such practices are ineffective in Saudi Arabia, where the government tends to the needs of the community as dictated by the mandate of the public. Consequently, its reliance on the existing rule of law could overlook extravagant undertakings that other private companies might typically undertake. Logic demands that privatization is the ideal approach to ensure that the government reduces the burden on the resources available by delegating some social responsibilities to private owners through legislative action. France provides an ideal blueprint of such an intervention measure where privatization accompanied by relevant regulations to regulate football club operation factors into the popularity levels (Holt, 2007). Introducing such changes to the Saudi Arabia environment could increase interest in the local sporting franchises thereby making it as competitive as the French sports sector.
A review of the French sports industry reveals a distinct feature absent in Saudi Arabia where there are independent authority bodies running operations for various sports. The introduction of such bodies of authority serves as a means of delegating the administrative role of the government to a dedicated and qualified body. Such an arrangement suits the nature of sports in the country where other sporting activities are also prominent and in need of administrative supervision (Holt, 2007). The authority bodies allow the sports entities to self-regulate while the government serves as the supervising source of authority for such organization thereby ensuring accountability. That arrangement removes the possibility of political interference in matters of sports which could have detrimental outcomes for that particular sporting activity where political views create an unstable sporting environment (Dorsey, 2015). The alienation of political influence on sports is partially responsible for the success of sporting activities in France, where the relevant stakeholders defend the interest of a particular sport. The stakeholders have no ulterior motives driven by political grandstanding in the introduction of laws and regulations which could be essential in supporting a sporting activity.
Saudi Arabia provides a succinct example of the shortfalls that a system influenced by politics could have on the overall bearing of the development or growth of sporting activities. The current arrangement provides the government with the supreme powers to dictate the course of various sporting activities within Saudi Arabia. From a legal standpoint, the government has the inherent authority to formulate and implement laws that govern sporting activities within the boundaries of Saudi Arabia. However, relying on the government to implement sensitive regulations that could foster the growth of the sporting industry is not a logical choice (Dorsey, 2015). The government serves the needs of numerous sections of society through the active introduction of specific laws and regulations. However, the political undertakings behind the process of formulation and implementation of new laws or revising those in existence could prove to be detrimental to the primary responsibilities. Additionally, there is a distinct lack of expertise among the lawmakers and policy influencers in Saudi Arabia, which would ideally jeopardize the stability of the sports industry. Consequently, the sports industry is likely to face distinct legal barriers to its cause which would explain the subpar development of sports in Saudi Arabia.
The comparison between Saudi Arabia and France provides sufficient information to make a case against the presence of political interference in modern-day sports. The situation in Saudi Arabia involves a supreme body of authority running all government systems including the sporting industry. However, the possibility that the government could cause catastrophic repercussions for the sports industry requires retrospective action. The process of transforming from the current state to a privatized industry could help rectify some of the challenges noted in the pursuit of the primary objectives. Reliance on political decision making could also backfire from the bureaucratic process of decision making typical of a modern system of governance. Furthermore, reliance on a single source of supreme authority in the decision-making process is subject to errors catalyzed by lack of expertise on the subject matter. In the end, the decisions made by the government might not always reflect the need for growth and popularity in the sports industry (Holt, 2007). France provides a clear example of the revolutionary nature of lawmaking and delegation of authority to qualified authority bodies that could catalyze the necessary growth levels.
Conclusion and Recommendation
The information presented in this report suggests that the current situation in Saudi Arabia is not ideal for the growth and development of sports activities. The government’s involvement in sports, particularly football, has an underlying negative impact on it. Government control on the local professional league limits football clubs to operate as non-profit organizations. Such limitations are responsible for the lack of competition and low popularity in the domestic league by the fans who are the intended target consumers. Additionally, the government involvement in the domestic league could also cause unintended political interferences that could draw sanctions from the world football ruling body FIFA. Finally, the government involvement in football matters implies that those clubs are under the constraints of the budget allocations which might not be sufficient in meeting all their financial obligations.
In light of the affirmations provided above on the involvement of government on sports the most logical step is the privatization of the entire sports sector. Such an arrangement would help reduce the responsibility of the government through delegation of duty to the new private owners. In turn, the government can engage in the active implementation of laws or regulations to supervise and provide guidance on the acceptable conduct of those private owners. The privatization of the football league will help alleviate or dispel the risk of the four challenges facing football as addressed in this report. The government can undertake evaluation exercises and benchmarking activities from practices in France to shape any intervention measures in Saudi Arabia. The changes to the football, and sports, in general, would help the country grow and achieve competitiveness on the same level as countries like France and other European nations.
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