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Football: Saudi Arabia Powerhouse Aim!

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

Saudi Arabia has a very ambitious project to make the Kingdom an international football hub and it began with the transfer in January of this year of Cristiano Ronaldo to the Al Nassr club on a two-and-a-half deal, reputedly worth for the player the sum of more than US$400 million in wages.

In June 2023, Karim Benzema moved to the Al Ittihad Club and, in August 2023, Neymar Junior joined Saudi Arabia’s most decorated club Al Hilal.

Also, during the current Summer ‘Transfer Window’, several other high-profile players from the European Leagues have joined the Saudi Pro League.

These include Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez, Jordan Henderson and N’Golo Kante, all for eye-watering sums.

In fact, during this period, the Saudi Pro League has spent more than US$900 million on transfer fees for foreign players in its aim to compete with the likes of the English Premier League and become one of the top Football Leagues in the world.

Saudi Arabia has invested billions of US Dollars in sport, which has been described by some commentators as ‘sports washing’ designed to distract people from its poor record on human rights!

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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