Stars of world football that adorned the European stage will rise in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Professional League, which has sucked in world soccer stars like a black hole with ‘oil money’, will open on the 12th (Korean time) with a match between Al-Ahli and Al-Hazem. The Saudi Professional League will start a nine-month journey until May next year. The Saudi Professional League, which consists of 18 clubs, proceeds in a home-and-away round-robin format to determine the winner and three relegated teams.먹튀검증
The Saudi Professional League has transformed into a strong league this year. Clubs in the Saudi professional league swept everything from old veteran players to players who had just entered their prime.
Al-Nasr fired a flare. Al-Nassr signed a two-year contract with world star Cristiano Ronaldo in January of this year under the condition of guaranteeing annual revenue of 200 million euros (approximately 289.1 billion won). Since then, superstars such as 2022 Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante (above Al Itihad), Riyad Mahrez (Al-Ahli), and Sadio Mane (Al-Nasr) have headed to Saudi Arabia.
The collection of star players is led by Al-Nasr, Al-Ittihad, Al-Hilal and Al-Ahli. The four clubs were acquired by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), a sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, in June, and these clubs, backed by PIF’s enormous oil capital, seduced players with huge annual salaries. The PIF’s investment is at the direction of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. Saudi Arabia has been implementing Vision 2030, a national development project since 2016, among which the football industry is included in the entertainment sector. Saudi Arabia believes that the development of sports indirectly affects the quality of life and economic growth of the country.
In addition to strengthening its league, Saudi Arabia is also launching a direct offensive toward European football.
The PIF-led consortium acquired Newcastle United of the English Premier League (EPL) for £350 million (511.3 billion won) in October 2021, stepping into European football as well as the EPL, which is considered the best in the world. Newcastle quickly raised their strength with the support of the PIF. Newcastle stayed in 12th place in the 2020-2021 season and 11th place in the 2021-2022 season in the EPL, but jumped to 4th place in the 2022-2023 season, securing the right to participate in the UEFA Champions League after 21 years.
However, Saudi Arabia’s conquest of European football through Newcastle is not easy. Even if you want to pour an astronomical amount of money, you cannot make a ‘random’ investment due to various regulations such as UEFA’s financial fair play regulations. Financial fair play rules prevent clubs from spending more than a certain percentage of revenue.
Western countries, including Europe, analyze Saudi Arabia’s move as an effort to strengthen its soft power and improve its international image by investing in sports. It’s called ‘sports washing’.
It is pointed out that Saudi Arabia is investing in various sports fields and hosting international sports events for the purpose of ‘image washing’ to hide its own human rights problems. Saudi Arabia will host the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup in January next year and the Asian Winter Games in 2029.