Saudi Arabia aims to be one of the top 10 football leagues in the world by 2030. To achieve this goal, the country has allocated a budget of 20 billion euros to bring world-renowned football legends to the country. So, what are the reasons and objectives behind Saudi Arabia’s investments in football? This article will explore these questions.
Football as a Campaign Tool
Under the framework of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “Vision 2030,” Saudi Arabia has embarked on initiatives to become the world’s new financial center and a hub of attraction in the Middle East. The country aims to move away from relying solely on oil for its economy and is turning to football, one of the world’s largest industries, in creating this space.
Saudi Arabia’s investments in football hold great importance not only for sports but also for turning the country into a global market in other areas and enabling Saudi Arabia to have a greater presence on the international stage. The country has had a negative image in terms of human rights violations among world nations until now. With the announcement of the establishment of the Saudi Women’s Football League in recent years and several other innovations, it is aimed to break this negative image through football.
A Shower of Stars
Saudi Arabia has begun bringing the world’s most prominent football stars to the country to enhance the quality and competitiveness of its football leagues. Following Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer to Al Nasr, star player Karim Benzema also signed a 3-year contract with the Saudi Arabian team Al Ittihad. These transfers have generated advertising revenue both domestically and globally.
Prior to Ronaldo’s transfer, ticket prices were sold for about 10 Saudi Arabian Riyals. After the Portuguese star’s transfer, ticket prices have reached around 150 Saudi Arabian Riyals. Additionally, it was announced that there has been a 143% increase in the number of fans attending the club’s matches.
Saudi Arabia plans to spend 20 billion euros within the next two years to bring world-renowned star football players to their leagues. The government has allocated funds for some clubs to add star transfers to their squads.
Move by Giant Organizations
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), with a net worth of $700 billion, announced that it has acquired 75% of the shares of the country’s major clubs, including Al Hilal, Al Ittihad, Al Ahli, and the club Al Nasr, where Cristiano Ronaldo plays. Saudi oil giant Aramco also announced its acquisition of the Al Qadisiyah club.
These investments by giant organizations aim to introduce Saudi Arabian football to the world and attract foreign investments. The Riyadh government aims to increase the annual revenue of football leagues to $480 million by 2030.
With these massive investments in football, Saudi Arabia seeks to secure hosting rights for the 2030 FIFA World Cup. The country is on track to becoming one of the top 10 football leagues in the world.