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Greece

Greece Draws Fire for World Cup Bid with Saudi Arabia, Egypt

September 30, 2022

ΑΤΗENS – After making business deals with Saudi Arabia, Greece plans to also make a joint bid for the 2030 soccer World Cup – with Egypt – but is being criticized for dealing with a country the CIA said ordered the slaughtering of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In a feature on the backlash, POLITICO noted that Greece is further cozying up to Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince  Mohammed bin Salman, who the US said ordered the killing of the Washington Post journalist and has been rewarded for it since with countries lining up to do business with him.

Human rights groups said Saudi Arabia and Egypt have discriminated against women, brutalized workers and tortured and murdered critics, with Egypt jailing journalists as well.

Saudi Arabia has also been accused of “sportswashing,” pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into creating a new professional golf circuit and buying up sponsoring rights to major events including boxing, car racing and soccer.

Now it wants the FIFA World Cup, the soccer ruling body constantly fending off corruption scandals and allegations that countries bribe their way into being selected as hosts, including Qatar this year.

As part of a joint bid for the 48-team tournament, Greece would be scrutinized for its human rights record, particularly related to the treatment of migrants, as well as being “associated with whatever human rights abuses Saudi Arabia and Egypt commit in the course of hosting the World Cup,” Minky Worden, Director of Global Initiatives at Human Rights Watch told the news site.

Ronan Evain, Executive Director of Football Supporters Europe said: “There’s no way FIFA can protect fans’ rights in a country like Saudi Arabia,” he said. “They are too co-dependent because they need their money.”

Since coming to power in 2019, Greece’s conservative New Democracy government has moved to get closer ties with the Saudis and other Gulf countries in response to Turkey trying to become a regional player, the report added.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has visited Saudi Arabia several times, Greece has delivered military equipment and soldiers and in July, Athens became the first EU capital visited by bin Salman since Khashoggi’s murder.

Bin Salman, signed a number of deals in Athens, including for undersea data cables and an agreement on renewable energy, while pledging to make Greece an energy hub for the distribution of “green hydrogen,” the site also noted.

 

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