Team officials also left little doubts about Bahrain’s goal: like at PSG, the owners hope the football team serves as a billboard for the Gulf state and draws tourists to a nation that is still reeling from the reputational damage it suffered when the nation’s monarchy. quell pro-democracy uprisings at the height of the Arab Spring.
“I think they saw a fantastic investment opportunity, and Paris FC is a good communication tool to promote the country,” Fabrice Herrault, the team’s general manager, said in an interview. As part of the agreement in which Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund took a 20% stake in the club, Paris FC will, from next season, have the words “Explore Bahrain” inscribed on its uniforms.
Bahrain’s National Communication Center did not respond to requests for comment, sent through its embassy in the UK, on the kingdom’s investment in Paris FC or on the allegations of several groups and even of its citizens that it has engaged in human rights abuses by crushing anti-government protests.
By investing in football, Bahrain is following its Gulf neighbors on a clear path. Qatar have owned PSG since 2011, and the billionaire brother of the UAE ruler has spent lavishly to assemble one of the best teams in the world in Manchester City, England. A Saudi prince owns another Premier League club, Sheffield United, and that kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund has made an offer to buy a third, Newcastle United. Gulf owners also control teams in Spain and Belgium.