Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, said in an interview with Fox News that aired Wednesday that he doesn't care about allegations of sportswashing made against his country.
"If sportswashing [is] going to increase my GDP [gross domestic product] by way of 1%, then I will continue doing sportwashing," he said, according to Foxnews.com. "I don't care."
Through its Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia has been increasingly aggressive in its involvement in global sports in recent years, highlighted in the United States by the creation of LIV Golf, which recruited high-profile players from the PGA Tour, eventually leading to a union between the two.
Critics have argued these types of investments are done to launder Saudi Arabia's image to the rest of the world. However, bin Salman contends that is not the case.
"One percent growth of GDP from sport and I'm aiming for another one-and-a-half percent -- call it whatever you want, we're going to get that one-and-a-half percent," he said.
This summer, teams in soccer's Saudi Pro League, with help from the PIF, spent nearly $1 billion acquiring several European-based stars, including Brazilian forward Neymar. Cristiano Ronaldo joined the league in January. The league's games are broadcast in the United States by Fox Sports.