WWE is close to being sold to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment fund, according to reports.
The news follows Stephanie McMahon’s resignation as co-CEO earlier on Tuesday after her father Vince McMahon appointed himself back to the WWE board of directors and was unanimously elected Executive Chairman of the Board.
In 2021, the Saudis became the majority owner of Premier League club Newcastle United. In 2022, they bankrolled LIV Golf’s attempt to dethrone the PGA Tour as the premier golf competition in the world.
WWE is reportedly being sold to Saudi Arabia’s PIF – governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan, right
Vince McMahon appointed himself back to the WWE board of directors last week
Saudi Arabia and the WWE have strengthened their relationship in the past decade and now the kingdom’s PIF have agreed a deal in principle, according to Bodyslam.net’s Cassidy Haynes and DAZN’s Steven Muehlhausen.
In 2018, the WWE hosted the ‘Greatest Royal Rumble’ at the King Abdullah International Stadium in Jeddah – which marked the first WWE event held in Saudi Arabia.
In 2021, the Saudis became the majority owner of Premier League club Newcastle United
Saudi Arabia has previously hosted multiple WWE promotions – including ‘Crown Jewel’
WWE would later commit to putting on a series of events known as ‘WWE Crown Jewel’ that will take place as part of a 10-year deal.
These agreements have all been touted as part of ‘Saudi Vision 2030’ – a framework to help diversify the kingdom’s economy and strengthen certain sectors under Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment fund has been accused of ‘sportswashing’ with the nation trying to improve its reputation in the face of criticism over its human rights record.
Saudi Arabia’s government has denied accusations of human rights abuses.
Vince McMahon, the founder and majority shareholder of WWE, rejoined last Friday several months after he retired from the sports entertainment company during an investigation into alleged misconduct.
McMahon retired as WWE’s chairman and CEO in July. He had stepped down temporarily from the posts a month earlier. The Wall Street Journal reported over the summer that McMahon agreed to pay more than $12million over the past 16 years to suppress allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity.
Stephanie, his daughter, was co-CEO alongside Nick Khan before her resignation Tuesday. Khan will continue in his role, now as sole CEO of the company.
‘I cannot put into words how proud I am to have helped lead what I consider to be the greatest company in the world and I am confident WWE is in the perfect position to continue to provide unparalleled creative content and drive maximum value for shareholders,’ McMahon said in a WWE statement.
Stephanie McMahon (C) has resigned as CEO from the WWE after her father, Vince (L), returned to the wrestling franchise, appointing himself back to the board of directors
Stephanie was co-CEO of the sports entertainment company for six months before resigning
She announced her resignation in a statement shared to social media on Tuesday evening
WHAT IS SPORTSWASHING?
The term ‘sportswashing’ is the practice of using sport as a propaganda tool to improve the reputation of a nation, company or individual.
Nations with poor human rights records will often look to host major international sporting events with the hope it will gloss over their treatment of minorities and raise their diplomatic standing in the world.
Sportswashing also happens when companies or individuals with shady pasts sponsor sporting teams or events to win favour in their community or with government.
She followed it up with a personal statement later Tuesday, expressing her gratitude for her six months as co-CEO.
‘Dear WWE Universe, About 8 months ago, I took a leave of absence and within a few weeks, unexpectedly had the opportunity of a lifetime.
‘I had the privilege to return as the co-CEO and Chairwoman of the Board of WWE. I cannot put into words how proud I am to have led what I consider to be the greatest company in the world, working alongside a remarkable leadership team and one of the strongest executives I have known in my co-CEO, Nick Khan.
‘Our Founder, Vince McMahon, has returned as Executive Chair and is leading an exciting process regarding strategic alternatives. And with Nick’s leadership and Paul “Triple H” Levesque as Chief Content Officer, I am confident WWE is in the perfect place to continue to provide unparalleled creative content and drive maximum value for shareholders.
‘WWE is in such a strong position, that I have decided to return to my leave and take it one step further with my official resignation.
‘I look forward to cheering on WWE from the other side of the business, where I started when I was a little kid, as a pure fan. I will always remain dedicated to WWE. I truly love our company, our employees, our Superstars, and our fans. And I am grateful to all of our partners.
‘Thank you for everything. Then. Now. Forever. Together. -Steph.’