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Opinion articles written in the style of their author. These texts are to be based on verified facts and must be respectful towards people, even though their actions may be criticized. All opinion articles written by individuals from outside the staff of EL PAÍS shall feature, along with the author’s name (regardless of their greater or lesser renown), a footer stating their office, academic title, political affiliation (if any) and main occupation, or the occupation related to the topic being assessed

Sold to Salafism

The millions for which Jon Rahm has sold himself to Saudi Arabia hide imprisoned and tortured citizens, executed minors, women sentenced to perpetual confinement and enslaved foreign workers

Golf
Jon Rahm (left) signing for LIV Golf with league commissioner Greg Norman on December 7 in New York.AP Associated Press/LaPresse (AP)
Najat El Hachmi

They will tell us that they are just athletes chasing or hitting balls, but by agreeing to do so in exchange for the huge amounts of money paid to them by Saudi Arabia, they are becoming political actors in a regime that spreads its anti-democratic values throughout the world. What the $500 million for which Jon Rahm has sold out to the Wahhabi kingdom hides is imprisoned and tortured citizens, executed minors, women condemned to perpetual confinement and enslaved foreign workers. I am beginning to think that extreme wealth has psychopathologizing effects because I cannot believe that so many sports professionals do not see how dangerous their active participation in the image-whitening of the petromonarchy is.

What is happening in Saudi Arabia is far from staying in Saudi Arabia given the extensive and powerful ramifications of its religious diplomacy, that is, the diffusion of an ideology as dangerous as Salafism that is colonizing young European Muslims without resistance. In Dr. Saoud et Mr. Djihad, Pierre Conesa recounts in detail the Arab country’s double network of influence: while with one hand it weaves a dense web of organizations that spread fundamentalist Islam throughout the world, with the other it stirs up and even finances terrorism. Among its efforts at a facelift is becoming the venue for the most important international sports events, to penetrate mass culture in the West. In this sense it is a blatant contradiction that FIFA continues to provide favorable treatment to Bin Salman’s theocracy. Well, contradiction if at some point we innocently believed that FIFA was feminist. From here we read the dismissal of Luis Rubiales as a defense of women’s rights, but from Muslim countries, where people change the channel when a kiss appears on TV and governments censor audiovisual broadcasts based on religious puritanism, the reasons are different. Both the kiss on Jenni Hermoso and the behavior of the former president of the RFEF were judged negatively, not because it was chauvinist abuse, but because it violated the rules of public decency. If two women had kissed freely on the field in Saudi Arabia, they would not have liked it either, but for very different reasons.

Of course, it turns out that many of its citizens, those who in public are exemplary Muslims, then travel to Morocco to sexually exploit the poor prostitutes. Nothing new, just the usual double standard that does not appear to keep soccer players and golfers awake at night.

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