Sports power relations in Saudi Arabia

Researchers at Play the Game have compiled a dataset that allows anyone to explore the scale and network behind Saudi Arabia's sports political strategy. It maps 795 positions in 156 Saudi entities and more than 300 Saudi sponsorships in sport. 


Download the dataset

Play the Game's dataset on sports power relations in Saudi Arabia provides the first thorough overview of the people and organisations behind the sports strategy of one of the most talked about states in current international sports politics. 

The dataset contains information about positions held by key decisions-makers in Saudi Arabia as well as a comprehensive list of Saudi Arabian sponsorships in the world of sport. All data collection took place between August and October 2023, and only positions and sponsorships active in 2023 and in the years to come have been included.

The data has been compiled through an inductive and explorative process that began by mapping the positions relating to sport held by already well-known decision-makers in Saudi Arabian sports, ministries, and entities owned by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF). This initial mapping identified new individuals, organisations, and entities whose positions and sponsorships were also mapped in a continuous process until no significantly new information emerged.


The dataset contains data about central decision-makers in


·         Saudi Arabian ministries

·         the Saudi Arabian Olympic federations

·         Saudi Pro League football clubs

·         a number of central state-owned or state-run companies and initiatives.

These data have been supplemented with data about Saudi Arabians that hold board-level positions within the international Olympic sports federations and the Olympic Council of Asia.

Finally, the data have been cross-referenced with a list of Saudi Arabian ambassadors, where only those diplomatic positions that are relevant to the project have been included.

The dataset also provides an overview of Saudi Arabian sponsorships in the world of sports. The overview has been produced by reviewing the official websites that belong to the entities identified during the process of mapping the positions. Google searches and news articles were used to supplement the findings.

Read Play the Game's article about the power players behind Saudi Arabia's sports strategy

Play the Game has used the database to shed light on the influential inner circle behind Saudi Arabia’s sports initiatives and investments in an article that dives into the extensive web and labyrinth of the network that surrounds the state-run Saudi sports venture.

Read the article

Watch Stanis Elsborg's presentation at Play the Game 2024

Dataset is freely available
Play the Game provides free access to the dataset which can be used by journalists, academics and other researchers to conduct their own research on specific individuals, sports, or sponsorships with appropriate recognition and accreditation of Play the Game.

As inspiration the dataset contains two examples of how the data can be used: One is an analysis of the number of positions held by named individuals, and the other is an analysis of which Saudi Arabian entities have sponsorships in the world of sport.

If you believe we are missing central data or have spotted any errors in the dataset, please contact us at

The data collection was conducted by Play the Game analysts Nathalie Zahle, Christian Le Coq, and Stanis Elsborg.

Dive into the data set and explore the web and labyrinth of Saudi Arabia’s sports strategy


Download the dataset


If you believe we are missing central data points or have spotted any errors in the dataset, please feel free to contact us at

Academic reference

Play the Game (2023): 'Sports power relations in Saudi Arabia'.
Available at:

Read the article

Saudi Arabia
PtG Article 01.11.2023
The power players behind Saudi Arabia's sports strategy
Yasir Al-Rumayyan
PtG Article 01.11.2023
Play the Game publishes dataset that maps the network of actors behind Saudi Arabia's sports strategy