SXSW 2024

Dictators & Sports: From sportswashing to soft power tactic


The Saudi regime-backed LIV golf's merger with the PGA Tour, on the heels of Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup amid scandals of bribery and the deaths of migrant workers, has drawn congressional investigation and brought attention to the increasing exploitation of the global appeal of sports by authoritarian regimes. The panel will explore how authoritarian regimes have moved beyond reputation laundering to see investments in sports as part of a multi-pronged soft power strategy to project influence and normalize their narrow political ideology in mainstream pop culture.

Related Media

Other Resources / Information


  1. On the heels of Qatar's hosting of the FIFA world cup, authoritarian regimes are ramping up investments in sports more than ever.
  2. The concept of "sportswashing" no longer sufficiently describes what his happening in the world of sports and authoritarian regimes.
  3. The media and public should appreciate the implications of the increasing importance of sports as a tool of authoritarian soft power



Mohamed Keita, Senior Policy Officer, Human Rights Foundation

Meta Information:

  • Event: SXSW
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Sports
  • Track 2
  • Level: Beginner

Add Comments

comments powered by Disqus

SXSW reserves the right to restrict access to or availability of comments related to PanelPicker proposals that it considers objectionable.