Rafael Nadal has became the ambassador of the Saudi Arabian Tennis Federation (STF). A choice that has not really been digested by a good part of fans and some players, former players and insiders.
The former Italian tennis star Adriano Panatta also spoke on the topic and, talking with some students in Rome, he expressed his opinion, which as always was very direct.
"Rafa Nadal testimonial for tennis in Saudi Arabia? If we talk about human rights, a separate broadcast should be made. I'm just saying that the Arabs are buying everything: soccer, golf, tennis, motoring. This is the world, unfortunately," said Panatta. Nadal returned to the court after almost a year at the ATP 250 tournament in Brisbane, but was unable to participate in the Australian Open due to the slight muscle injury suffered during the match with Jordan Thompson.
Amnesty International criticizes Nadal's choice
A choice, that of Nadal, which brought to light the issue relating to the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia and the authoritarian government present in the country. There was no shortage of criticism from Amnesty International, an international organization committed to the defense of human rights.
"It is just the latest chapter in Saudi Arabia's ongoing sportswashing operation. Nadal rather speaks openly about human rights. From tennis to football, golf to boxing, Saudi authorities have spent billions in their efforts to reclassify the country as a sporting superpower and divert attention from an appalling human rights record," said Peter Frankental, director of Amnesty International UK economic affairs.
"Growth and progress that’s important to see and the STF is working on that. In a recent visit I saw the interest in both aspects and I want to be part of that role of growing the sport of tennis around the world. The kids are looking to the future and I saw they are passionate about sports… I want to encourage them to pick up a racket and enjoy the benefits of a healthy living," wrote Nadal on a post shared on X, in order to explain his collaboration with the Sauda Arabia Tennis Federation.
Growth and progress that’s important to see and the STF is working on that.— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) January 15, 2024
In a recent visit I saw the interest in both aspects and I want to be part of that role of growing the sport of tennis around the world.
The kids are looking to the future and I saw they are passionate… pic.twitter.com/vF3VaJXazH