Oil money: Petrodollars, Man City, PSG and how modern football is fueled by the mega-rich industry


Some of the biggest teams in the world are financed by slick operations, as are the most prestigious competitions

Football has always been a fascinating kingdom for millionaires, billionaires, mega-wealthy companies and wealthy individual investors.

Sport guarantees access to a single global market and brings with it a certain level of prestige, particularly when it comes to successful clubs.

From the beginning of the millennium there was an influx of so-called "oil money" into the game, with a number of clubs worldwide benefiting from it.

But what exactly are "oil money" and which clubs receive the investments? Objective take a look at the phenomenon

What does "oil currency" mean?

The oil money, as the term suggests, is the wealth that has been acquired through the oil industry.

Generally, this sector focuses on the extraction and refinement of crude oil in order to grow products such as gasoline, fuel oil and plastics.

Oil reserves can be found all over the world, but the regions most commonly associated with the resource are the Middle East (including countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), Russia and North America.

The football clubs that are said to be managed on oil money are those that have received investments from companies involved in the oil industry or, more commonly, those that have been bought outright by groups or individuals whose financial influence derives from their oil relations.

Which clubs benefit from oil money?

Raheem Sterling Manchester City Suat Serdar Schalke 2019

A number of clubs all over the world benefit from oil money.

One of the earliest and most notable examples of a football team receiving an industry boost is the Premier League club Chelsea, which were detected by Roman Abramovich in 2003. The Russian business man invested money in the Blues and helped push them towards success in the domestic and continental stages.

Bundesliga side Schalke have a long-standing agreement with the Russian state-owned oil company Gazprom. The partnership, which sees Gazprom appear in the club's jerseys and merchandise, was established for the first time in 2007. In 2016, the sponsorship agreement was extended until 2022, with Bild reporting that it was worth € 150 million (£ 130m / $ 170m) for the Gelsenkirchen suit.

Gazprom also owns a Russian club Zenith, hired in 2005 and was one of the main sponsors of the Serbian team Red Star Belgrade since 2010.

In addition to owning and pumping money in clubs, Gazprom is also a notable sponsor of the Champions League. The partnership started in 2012 and the European government body revealed in 2018 that it would be extended until 2021.

"Gazprom is not only a leader in its field, but also has a long tradition in football," said UEFA spokesman Guy-Laurent Epstein of the renewal of the agreement. "We are not looking forward to developing our relationship as we enter a new round of Champions League."

Arsenal Fly Emirates

Some of the biggest and most successful clubs in the world have benefactors whose wealth comes from oil. real Madrid, Arsenal, AC Milan is Benficafor example, they are sponsored by the Emirates group, the Dubai-based company.

The same company also sponsors the Bundesliga side Hamburg, Greek dress Olympiacos and American team New York Cosmos. Like Gazprom, Emirates has also extended its engagement in football to the sponsorship of competitions, becoming the sponsor name of the FA Cup and also the Asian Football Confederation.

Manchester City they are also financed by the money of the United Arab Emirates, based in Abu Dhabi City Football Group – directed by Sheikh Mansour – owner of the club. The main sponsor of the city is Etihad Airways, which also gives its name to the club's home stadium.

Nasser Al-Khelaifi Neymar PSG

Qatar Airways, which is the oil-rich state-owned airline of Qatar, is another notable sponsor that can be seen on the swords of the Argentinian giants Boca Juniors and the club of the Italian capital Rome. Barcelona previously had a sponsorship deal with Qatar Airways before switching to the Japanese internet service provider Rakuten.

French giants Paris Saint-Germain they are owned by Qatar Sports Investment group and are also sponsored by Fly Emirates.

Qatar itself will host the 2022 World Cup, so perhaps it is not surprising that the company is also a FIFA partner world Cup.

Oil controversy in football

The increase in the investment of "oil money" in football has not been without controversy.

The Schalke, for example, found itself in a difficult position because of their association with Gazprom, which was blocked in a political dispute with the European Union in a context of violence in Ukraine and Syria.

Similarly, clubs that are owned by state-owned companies from the Middle East or are sponsored by them, have been put under pressure. Amnesty International has expressed its criticism of the United Arab Emirates and has also raised serious concerns about the Qatari treatment of migrant workers during the preparation of the 2022 World Cup.

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In addition to these serious problems, the influx of "oil money" into football has undoubtedly pushed the council in favor of those clubs that are now able to buy the best players in the world and keep a hold on the competitions in which they compete. While UEFA introduced the Financial Fair Play in an attempt to level the playing field, it was a heavy process.

Moreover, when iconic institutions such as football clubs, which have a long history and traditions, turn into billionaire toys, they can have the effect of alienating supporters. While some may embrace the wealth and success that often accompanies it, others lose their connection and lead to grassroots campaigns such as Against Modern Football.

As long as the oil industry is entangled in a socio-economic and political network, it is likely that controversy will never be too far for clubs whose operations are lubricated by its wealth.