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Saudi Football's Ambitious Leap to Global Prominence with Ronaldo, Messi, and Strategic Investments.

Salem Badughaish

FOT: AL ARABYIA


Saudi football is entering a promising phase as the country experiences significant growth and development in various sectors. The announcement of Cristiano Ronaldo's contract with Al-Nasr Club in December marked the beginning of Saudi football's journey onto the global stage. The efforts to elevate Saudi football have continued with negotiations between Saudi clubs and renowned players like Lionel Messi, who is in advanced talks with Al-Hilal Club as his contract with Paris Saint-Germain nears expiration. Alongside these high-profile transfers, there are reports suggesting that the Saudi Public Investment Fund may acquire a majority stake in popular clubs such as Al-Hilal, Al-Nasr, Al-Ittihad, and Al-Ahly. This potential ownership change aims to strengthen these clubs and drive the expansion and privatization of sports entities, ultimately positioning the Saudi league among the world's strongest. Cristiano Ronaldo himself acknowledged the competitiveness of the Saudi League and predicted its rise to become one of the top five leagues globally.


Saudi football is currently experiencing a transformative phase, fueled by the tremendous developments taking place across various sectors in the Kingdom. This drive for progress extends to the realm of football, with Saudi clubs making bold moves to assert their presence on the global stage.


The pivotal moment that marked the launch of Saudi football's journey onto the world's radar occurred on December 30th. On this day, Al-Nasr Club made headlines by unveiling their official contract with none other than Cristiano Ronaldo, the star and captain of the Portuguese national team. The winter transfer period saw Ronaldo join Al-Nasr with a contract that extends until 2025, signifying a significant statement of intent from Saudi football.


But the ambitions of Saudi football go beyond the acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo. The recent period has witnessed intense negotiations between several Saudi clubs and elite footballers, led by the legendary Argentine Lionel Messi. With Messi's contract at Paris Saint-Germain set to expire on June 30th, advanced discussions are underway between him and Al-Hilal Club, showcasing the determination of Saudi clubs to attract top-tier talent.


Amidst the buzz surrounding these high-profile transfers, reports have emerged suggesting that the Saudi Public Investment Fund is considering acquiring a substantial ownership stake, ranging from 51 percent to 75 percent, in four of the most popular clubs in Saudi Arabia. These clubs are Al-Hilal, Al-Nasr, Al-Ittihad, and Al-Ahly. Such a significant acquisition, if realized, would not only bolster the stature and resources of these clubs but also serve as a crucial step towards the privatization of clubs and sports entities in Saudi Arabia.


The proposed acquisition by the Public Investment Fund aims to lay the foundation for a more competitive and prosperous future for Saudi football. It aligns with the broader plan to develop and enhance competition within the Saudi league, propelling it to be among the strongest and most prominent leagues worldwide. This strategic move reflects Saudi Arabia's commitment to fostering growth and excellence in sports and showcases the country's aspiration to become a global powerhouse in football.


Cristiano Ronaldo, widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers in history and the highest-scoring player for national teams, has already recognized the potential of the Saudi League. In recent televised statements to the "SSC" (Saudi Sports Company) station following a victory over Al-Shabab, Ronaldo acknowledged the difficulty of the competition in the Saudi League. However, he also expressed his belief that, step by step, the league will continue to improve and has the potential to become one of the top five strongest leagues in the world.


The combination of high-profile signings, potential ownership changes, and a strategic vision for development places Saudi football on a trajectory towards a golden era. With the concerted efforts being made to attract top talent, strengthen clubs, and privatize sports entities, Saudi Arabia aims to establish its football league as a global force to be reckoned with. As the momentum builds and plans unfold, the future of Saudi football shines bright with promise.

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