AL AIN, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - MAY 15: Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan are pictured during the friendly match between Al Ain and Manchester City at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on May 15, 2014 in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Saudi Government Set To Invest $20 billion Into Football Clubs

1 year ago
1 min read

The Saudi government has announced a $20 billion investment to develop Saudi Arabia’s top clubs and bolster the country’s league.

The investment is aimed at attracting “very big names” to the league.

Amnesty International recently described the huge investment in sports by the Saudi government as “sportswashing” to cover up for a number of human rights injustices but it seems the criticism would not deter the Saudi government.

Cristiano Ronaldo is already in Saudi Arabia. Karim Benzema looks sure to be next. And as the oil-rich kingdom pursues Lionel Messi as well, it is making sure that money continues to flow into the domestic soccer league.

Saudi Arabia’s push to attract the world’s best players reaches a new dimension on Monday as the sovereign wealth Public Investment Fund took a majority ownership stake in four of the country’s top clubs, including Ronaldo’s Al Nassr.

Sources noted that the move is part of a “privatization project” that encourages public sector organizations to invest in sports, with soccer teams a priority under the initiative backed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The PIF already owns Premier League club Newcastle and manages more than $600 billion of the oil-rich kingdom’s assets.

Unlike the Premier League and other European teams, Saudi clubs are not bound by UEFA’s rules on spending, meaning there is no limit to the salaries the PIF can offer to lure top players to the Middle East.

Aside from Al Nassr, it now owns a 75% share of Al Ittihad, Al Ahli and Al Hilal, the Asian Champions League winner in 2019 and 2021.

Premier League champions Manchester City and new moneybags Newcastle United are owned by Saudi Arabia owners.

More illustrious names in football especially those winding down on their careers are expected to be snapped up by the rich oligarch club owners.

There has also been top heavyweight boxing and Formular 1 events held in Saudi Arabia in recent years.

izu

Izuchukwu Okosi is a Nigerian sports and entertainment journalist with two decades of experience in the media industry having begun his media journey in 2002 as an intern at Mundial Sports International (MSI) and Africa Independent Television (AIT), owners of Daar Communications Plc.

Izuchukwu Okosi is a Nigerian sports and entertainment journalist with two decades of experience in the media industry having begun his media journey in 2002 as an intern at Mundial Sports International (MSI) and Africa Independent Television (AIT), owners of Daar Communications Plc.


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