Rabaasso, C., Briars, M. & Rabasso, J. (2015). Royal family business in Qatar and the Emirates through sports club management: Green washing or a sustainable model? The cases of FC Barcelona and Manchester City. IJES Vol. 23 (2) 5.

This paper explores a couple of concepts. The authors look at two examples of sports teams — FC Barcelona and Manchester City — that are owned by royal families, one in Qatar and the other in Abu Dhabi. The first premise is that the authors contend these sporting clubs engage in “sustainable” and “responsible” activities. The second element of the article ponders whether those activities will affect a culture shift in these home nations, with the royal families essentially learning things about these concepts from the West and then applying them to their own nations.

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On the first point, the author does not do a particularly good job at outlining the term “responsible,” but rather simply repeats that these organizations have “responsible practices,” yet never elaborating on what these actually are. It is certainly not sustainable to jet teams and players around the world, and expend tremendous resources for the sake of ephemeral entertainment. The authors would have strengthened their case considerably by referencing exactly what these responsible practices at the heart of their study are.

The authors begin with a discussion about culture in Qatar, including some of the different things that the royal family is doing with regards to buying art and promoting education. On an unrelated tangent, the authors write about building Qatar’s brand as a nation, whatever that means. As fascinating as a full recounting of the royal family’s art purchases might be to some, it has nothing to do with the topic of this paper.

The author delves into some of the labor practices in Qatar, including the issues that the country faces with respect to gender discrimination. There has been external pressure placed on Qatar for human resources reform, as the country moves into the modern world. There is a lot of talk about Qatar Airways, for some reason. There is then some discussion about the foreign migrant workers in the country, estimated to be 1.2 million. Most come from poor countries, but face issues such as being unable to leave the country. There have been accusations of labor exploitation directed at foreign workers in Qatar. These are the two key issues of note in the discussion that frames the ways in which re-patriating Western values might change Qatari society.

The next section of the paper provides an overview of the Abu Dhabi situation, where City Football Group owns several football clubs worldwide, with Manchester City as its flagship, but also teams in New York, Melbourne and Yokohama. This is followed by an overview of some of the ethical issues that have been associated with Abu Dhabi, again pertaining mainly to the treatment of the migrant foreign work force. There have been accusations on a lot of different levels, including long hours, lack of drinking water, housing, heavy debt and people having their passports held.

The author then makes the assertion that these teams are building some sort of “globally responsible” brand image, without providing evidence that they are doing so, or that responsibility (however defined) is even part of their marketing efforts at all. The authors then toss out the term “green-washing,” again offering up no evidence nor case that there is even an attempt by either sports club to portray itself as an environmental champion or to misrepresent its ethics. The authors actually reference a science fiction novel and a Michael Moore film at this point, having completely abandoned all pretense of professionalism.

They discuss what greenwashing is, cite a selection of their favorite dystopian novels. So there is some sloppy work trying to outline what the basic concepts are that the authors wish to discuss — what is sustainability, for example — but there are never linked back to the sports organizations being studied. Then they go back to talking about how kids like their football heroes. They do note that FCB participates in some sports development programs in its native Catalonia. The thing is, these programs have existed for a long time, and they are not associated with any “greenwashing ” effort –just because a profitable company donates some time in the community does not mean it is trying to deliberately mislead consumers about its environmental record. The two are not even connected.

The authors after outlining some of the work the Barcelona Foundation does turn their attentions to some of the work that Manchester City does. They quickly make the leap, without even remotely substantiating anything, that the Qatari royal family bought Manchester City because 2000 workers have died working on infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup. They offer up nothing to support such an assertion.

The brand of Manchester City has grown since City Football Group purchased it. As a member of the English Premier League, the best league in the world, it has a high profile, made higher by the money that the CFG has been able to invest in players and promotions. The authors write a lot of things that don’t matter, but fail to actually point out where City’s branding efforts have been any sort of greenwashing, what they have to do with this still undefined concept of “responsibility” and nothing is linked back to how this affects the world’s view of Abu Dhabi.

It was noted that the sheikh spend £1 billion of his personal money in Manchester, in some of that city’s most impoverished areas. The authors do not examine the possibility that this is a key marketing strategy to develop multi-generational loyalty for the club in a city where there is another major club with which to compete. This is part philanthropy, part long-term marketing strategy. The authors note that the sheikh was quoted as saying that this investment reflects positively on Abu Dhabi’s values, including loyalty and long-term planning. This links up with the marketing concept but has less to do with greenwashing, or deflecting attention away from Abu Dhabi’s human rights problems.

The conclusion of the paper expends an inordinate amount of effort introducing a discussion about Paris St.-Germain, name-dropping Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions. The authors make mention of “global responsibility” again, still not defining it. They speculate about the emergence of an economy of “well-being” in the Middle East, rather than an economy of production and consumption of manufactured goods. Not sure what this has to do with football clubs.

No conclusion is reached, on the basis of evidence or otherwise, with respect to how owning football clubs is linked to misleading people about the ethical practices in their receptive countries, nor is there any discussion of how learning about social responsibility in the West relates back to their home countries. These leaders are already Western-educated, so did not just learn about social responsibility after they bought football clubs. Moreover, there is no evidence that these clubs pursue social responsibility agendas. Further, there is no evidence that any of that is brought back to Qatar and Abu Dhabi.

The article is of no value. It has no particular aim, rather throwing out some vague question about an ill-defined concept of responsibility. The authors make little effort to focus on their own research question. The literature review is poor, with far too much irrelevant information, several inappropriate sources, and a poor structure to the research. The background issue has some merit, and even the research question does, but these two things are so poorly operationalized that the paper ends up being a disjointed amalgamation of disparate ideas. There is no structure or flow to speak of. The hypothesis is never tested, the keywords never defined, and the research question never truly answered. None of the authors’ assertions are supported by evidence. As such, the paper has no merit as an academic paper, makes no argument and answers no questions. It is thirty pages of random facts and disorganized half-thoughts.

Article #2

Mera, X. (2010). Factor prices under monopoly. Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. Vol. 13 (1) 48-70.


The title of the second article is Factor Prices Under Monopoly, and the article was written by Xavier Mera. The paper examines how the granting of monopolistic privileges can lower labor and land prices versus the free market. The theory applied in this study is essentially that monopolists not only extract monopoly rents from their clients, but from their factor input providers as well. The author concludes that granting of monopoly privileges therefore triggers downward price pressure. The article was published in the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, which highlights the ideological bent of the author.

The keywords that would describe this paper revolve around monopoly rents, factor inputs and monopoly privileges.


The research here is speculative in nature, a thought experiment looking at the general idea that monopolists exert their bargaining power both on the customers and the suppliers. The basic principle of monopolists exerting market power on customers is widely known, taught and understood. It stands to reason, however, that a monopolist can have the same impact on its suppliers. A key complicating factor is that a monopolist is usually defined as having a monopoly over the market, that is to say over the customers. A monopolist does not necessarily have monopoly over the suppliers. However, there is reason to think that many monopolists, even if they do not have monopoly over suppliers, have a large enough business that they should have significant bargaining power with suppliers. That should, as the logic of the paper holds, result in downward price pressure on factor inputs.

The research therefore aims to investigate this concept in depth. The author does not aim to explicitly demonstrate the theory, with evidence, but rather to present the idea as a thought experiment, and perhaps to convince the reader of his position. As such, the article has a theoretical approach, in particular working with “Rothbardian monopoly price theory,” which research reveals to be some sort of argument that monopoly prices are illusory, as the ability of a monopoly to charge infinitely high prices bumps up against the constraint of consumer income. Now, this has always been known, that not all goods can exist at monopoly prices, and that monopoly’s ability to price is governed by the elasticity of the good, so the author is taking known fact and extrapolating it to fit his own narrative, a priori, as is the rhetorical style of the Austrian school.


The background of this paper is rooted in Austrian economic theory. Generally speaking, Austrian economics is poorly-regarded, because its arguments are rooted in rhetoric, are overly reliant on speculation and logical fallacy, and are not rooted in evidence. Indeed, this paper offers very few citations for its arguments, and those that exist are from members of the Austrian school. This engagement in circular reasoning promises to hold back the logical power of this paper.

That said, this paper demonstrates an interesting element of the Austrian school, in that there is a nugget of truth here. When one examines the argument without worrying about the a priori conclusions the author has, it is an interesting idea that a monopolist will leverage its bargaining power on its suppliers. In business, any capitalist organization will use whatever bargaining power it has to gain advantage, in particular to drive down prices from its supply chain. This is especially true of firms operating in a competitive marketplace. Where the author’s main point falls apart a bit is to extrapolate such free market conditions to a condition where the monopolist has bargaining power over buyers as well. In that situation, lowering prices paid to suppliers may happen, but there is still no incentive to pass such savings onto the buyers. The author’s theory is that a monopolist in a capitalist business will do this, but that is a hypothetical situation generally not seen. Most monopolists do not operate in a capitalist business, but rather with public goods. The author could have found examples, had he wanted to, from which to gather information. Several Canadian provinces and Scandinavian countries have alcohol monopolies — a capitalist business with an artificial monopoly. Ontario’s Liquor Control Board, for example, boasts about having the lowest alcohol prices, an example where the author’s argument holds true. It buys cheap, and passes those savings onto consumers, at least some of the time. At the very least, there was potential for the author to gather data and test his theory. There are other examples — petrol pricing in any of a number of countries with government monopoly could be examined.

Literature Review

If it is a failing of the author to gather facts where they are available, it is also a failure of literature review. The author cites almost exclusively from journals devoted to his own school of economic thought — Austrian/libertarian journals. The problem with this is that these sources, sharing the same bias and mindset of the author, naturally support the author’s argument. But they do so without the rigour of peer review or the burden of evidence. In essence, the literature review here is not only thin, but lacks academic credibility. The author is not really trying that hard to put his ideas to the test in the real world, or against the theories of more respected economic schools.

Research Question

The author aims to determine if monopolists drive down prices on the supply side. The author subsequently aims to equate with the Rothbard’s theory that monopoly pricing is an illusion. The first part of the research question was provable, but the author did not look at potential examples that exist in the real world. Instead, the author sought to investigate the research question within the closed world of Austrian economic rhetoric. This might be fine for that audience, but makes the article less than useful for the broader world.

The second part of the research question is similarly subject to rhetorical debate, rather than any scientific analysis. These research questions and hypotheses could have been tested in the real world, and not to do so was a failing of the author. Not looking outside of a closed world of like-minded thinkers also undermines the argument — competing views should have been examined as well, to add rigour to the thought exercise in which the author is engaging.

Ultimately, the author began with at least one valid research question, but did not test this question. Rather, the author chose to engage in rhetorical discourse. . This could be valuable as a thought experiment, but would be more valuable had he availed himself of the opportunity to gather the data that exists in this world and test that data empirically. This is a lost opportunity, because both research questions could have been evaluated. It is less useful to know what a person thinks, and how his brain works through a thought experiment, than it would have been had the author actually gathered facts, analyzed them, and reached his conclusions on the basis of that empirical analysis.


Mera, X. (2010). Factor prices under monopoly. Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. Vol. 13 (1) 48-70.

Rabaasso, C., Briars, M. & Rabasso, J. (2015). Royal family business in Qatar and the Emirates through sports club management: Green washing or a sustainable model? The cases of FC Barcelona and Manchester City. IJES Vol. 23 (2) 5.