Rafael Nadal - US Open 2022

Rafael Nadal refutes accusations he has ‘sold out’ to Saudi Arabia sportswashing

Rafael Nadal has dismissed accusations of him ‘selling out’ to sportswashing by becoming an Ambassador for Saudia Arabian tennis.

Saudi Arabia are using their vast wealth to perform what many consider to be a hostile takeover of work sport, with top level golf and boxing already going there and Premier League football club Saudi Arabia also Saudi owned.

Their own football league is also receiving significant funding from the state, allowing them to sign stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Sadio Mane.

It’s all in an effort to distract from the country’s record on human rights issues, and tennis appears to be next on their list.

To that end, they have signed up Rafael Nadal, but he refutes any suggestion that is a sign of him ‘selling out’ and more evidence of him giving them a chance to prove they have changed.

“I don’t think Saudi Arabia needs me to wash any images,” Nadal said. “It is a country that has opened up to the world and it is a country with great potential.

“Therefore, it is logical that the world is beginning to there and the feeling is that everything is bought with money and that now Rafa has also been sold to money. I understand that people think that they, of course they do.

“Are things that need to be improved today [in the region]? Without a doubt. It is a country that is very late in many things and has only recently opened up a bit.

“If the country does not achieve the evolution that I think it has to follow in the next 10-15 years, I will tell you that I was completely wrong.

“I think I’m going to have the freedom to work with the values that I think I have to work with and that are the right ones. If it doesn’t happen, I’ll tell you that I made a mistake.”

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Michael Graham, Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.