Discover more from Rant! with Alex Finley
Welcome to Bins Fulla Moolah, Saudi Arabia's retirement community for world soccer stars!
Plus: A #YachtWatch update
A #YachtWatch update: Russian oligarchs, who got their money and positions through corruption, are using our rule of law to stop governments from selling off seized assets. I did a roundup of some of the court cases involving all those seized mega yachts. Check it out at Project Brazen’s Whale Hunting.
Reminder: We’ve now got ten classes up in the Foreign Influence Operations course. It is designed to do at your own pace, so don’t think it’s too late to sign up!
ALEX’S WEEKLY RANT
Welcome to Bins Fulla Moolah, Saudi Arabia’s premier retirement community for world soccer stars. We’re here to hijack…your hearts!
You must be here because you’ve heard about the Kingdom’s plans to recruit you and other global soccer sensations whose contracts in the most competitive leagues are running out. It’s all part of our effort to build a Saudi pro league, a fancy dressing up of our actual goal to sportswash our image.
What piqued your interest? Are you getting too old and tired for the pace of European competitive football? Or is it all the money we’re throwing at you? We don’t care! Come play in Saudi Arabia for two years. You don’t even have to be at the top of your game. You could probably play hungover and you’d still be better than most of our players (although don’t get too cocky; our national team was the only team to beat Lionel Messi and ten other Argentine players in the World Cup that Messi and ten other Argentine players eventually won).
Yes, I said “hungover.”
Technically, consuming alcohol is illegal in Saudi Arabia. But those rules are for other people, people who we know can’t handle booze and need to adhere to strict religious code or face eternal damnation. But you? You’re global football stars! The most responsible people in the world! We know you can handle it. Just do it in the privacy of your own compound, not in public, and everything will be fine. But seriously, not in public.
And remember, we’re like really chill and relaxed about women now. We’re letting Ronaldo and Georgina live together with their children even though they are not married (Ronaldo and Georgina, that is; not the children. Although, we’d be fine if they did marry—Ronaldo and Georgina, or the children).
On the subject of wives and girlfriends: They are welcome! And we are sure Saudi Arabia is exactly where they want to be. What woman doesn’t dream of living in Saudi Arabia?
We will relax female dress codes for them, although we do still expect some decorum, so they’ll need to pull those necklines up and those skirt lines down a little. Well, a lot. Let’s make it alot. We’ve seen those WAGs calendars. In fact, there’s a black market of those WAGs calendars here in Saudi. I mean, no, we’ve never seen them but we’ve heard about them and can only imagine… I mean, no! We would never imagine!
Much like in your European cities, here at Bins Fulla Moolah you’ll live in an isolated compound with your entourage with tip top service any time of day. Unlike in your European cities, those service personnel have probably had their passports taken away, but that’s only because we know they love it here so much they would never want to leave.
You’ll have access to a world-class gym, a swimming pool, a spa, and a barbecue we promise has only been used for food. And since you’re basically retired: golf! We’ve got that, too. In fact, we own it. The entire sport. It’s ours now.
Worried about our human rights record? Don’t be! We won’t treat you badly. In fact, you can visit the Ritz Carlton whenever you like, and we’ll even let you leave! Still worried? Did we mention the $200 million you’ll be making each year?
Now, we will technically “own” you. This effort will be funded by our sovereign wealth fund. No specific club will pay you. You are making a deal directly with the Saudi government. Or more specifically, with the sovereign. But he’s totally cool. Just compliment him in public and there won’t be any problems.
We understand some of you are still contemplating whether or not to sign. There are plenty of more zeros we can discuss adding on to our already generous offer. We know you’ll join us eventually. The Crown Prince always gets what he wants.
Seriously, just give him what he wants.
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THE WEEK’S LINKS
A roundup of stories you should be reading
How Austria became Putin’s Alpine Fortress (Politico)
The meat magnate who pushed Putin’s agenda in Germany (Reuters) (For more on this, see this twitter thread I did, which also ties in to using soccer/sport to sportswash a country’s image and influence Western policymakers)
YOUR FEEL-GOOD STORY OF THE WEEK
Alex Finley is a former officer of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, where she served in West Africa and Europe. She writes and teaches about terrorism, disinformation / covert influence, and oligarch yachts. Her writing has appeared in Slate, Reductress, Funny or Die, POLITICO, The Center for Public Integrity, and other publications. She has spoken to the BBC, MSNBC, CNN, C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, France24, and numerous other media outlets. She was also invited once to speak at Harvard, which she now tells everyone within the first ten seconds of meeting them. She is the author of the Victor Caro series, satirical novels about the CIA. Before joining the CIA, Alex was a journalist, covering Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, and the Department of Energy. She reported on issues related to national security, intelligence, and homeland security. Did she mention she was invited to speak at Harvard?