Controversy Rome and Riyadh’s sponsor

Just over a month before the vote for Expo 2030, there is talk of a lack of style in the Friedkin club. Mayor Gualtieri jokes about the Saudis: “But then they seriously fear us… We are David, they are Goliath as demonstrated by their immense spending capacity including the choice to come and sponsor Roma…”

Massimo Cecchini

– Rome

Cvd. As we wanted to demonstrate. The news of the two-year agreement signed by Rome with the “Riyadh Season”, one of the largest entertainment festivals in the world, did not please the Campidoglio at all, given that the Italian capital competes with the Saudi one (and with the South Korean city of Busan) to win Expo 2030, destined to have an economic impact estimated at around 10 billion euros. It is no coincidence that Mayor Gualtieri and the President of the Region, Rocca, went on a pilgrimage to Paris in June (together with Prime Minister Meloni) and in September to New York to sponsor Rome. The vote of the 180 countries participating in the “Bureau International des Expositions” will take place on November 28th and there are also whispers of an underground agreement that would channel the votes of Busan to Rome (and vice versa) in the event of a two-way sprint with Riyadh. Well, just over a month after the vote, there is talk from the Capitol of a lack of style.


Mayor Gualtieri states that he only learned yesterday, and with some surprise, of Roma’s choice. Even if in practice it certainly won’t be a shirt that will influence the vote of the ambassadors of the 180 countries adhering to the Bie, that the name of the capital’s main rival for the Expo match will appear on the shirts of one of the two Rome teams, naturally cannot do Pleasure. All of this, like the Roberto Mancini affair – as announced by the administration – makes it clear what level of resources the Saudis have decided to invest in the entertainment sectors and allows us to imagine the even greater extent of those dedicated to ‘Expo. But Italy and Rome still consider the challenge open and will continue to commit to the Expo until the end, starting next Tuesday in Paris for the last EIB meeting. It is no coincidence that Gualtieri responded coldly to the notebooks: “I recently learned about Roma’s agreement with Riyadh’s new sponsor. I need to understand what it is about before commenting.” But then he added: “But then they seriously fear us… We are David, they are Goliath as demonstrated by their immense spending capacity including the choice to come and sponsor Roma. I don’t know how the Expo match will go. I know that we will fight to the end without fear and that every now and then, as the biblical stories teach, things turn out differently from the predictions.”


And the former mayor Raggi added: “Roma should also put the logo of the Roman candidacy for Expo 2030 on the shirt”. Rocca is in Geneva today for a Red Cross meeting, but the Region informally expresses its surprise at not having been notified before the signing. But what political consequences could there be? It goes without saying that the Municipality and Region, in the last year, have had a very strong dialogue with the Giallorossi club due to the new Roma stadium in Pietralata. All institutional bodies, obviously, exclude any impact on the project and its timing. A necessary clarification, but politics has a long memory and, certainly, the Riyadh issue will take time to digest.