Saudi Arabia has a “global” football ambition

Saudi Arabia has a “global” football ambition

The atmosphere in the stands of the illustrious King Abdullah Stadium is one of great evenings. On May 23, Al-Ittihad, the star of Jeddah Club, hosted the international city on the shores of the Red Sea, Al-Batin in front of large crowds, in front of 55,000 spectators.

Amidst the smoke, thousands of local fans chanted loudly to the glory of the black and golden “Tigers”, their team atop Saudi Arabia’s professional championship, the Saudi Professional League, three days after the end. Young women who have come with friends or family raise flags in club colours. “The atmosphere is the same at every home game. We don’t miss anything…when we can get tickets,” Comments Nada (she did not want to give her name), wears a flowery headscarf and wears a brown abaya. To illustrate this dedication, the 33-year-old Saudi woman points her finger at the sky: My spiritual union is God. »

The legendary fervor of its supporters earned Al-Ittihad the nickname “The People’s Club”. The passion is passed down from generation to generation and among friends. He is not the most successful player in the history of Saudi football. These percentages go to Al-Hilal, a rival from Riyadh. But after fourteen lean years, he won the championship this season by defeating Al-Nasr, the most prominent club in the Kingdom, and its player, the Portuguese star and Cristiano Ronaldo, who won the Golden Ball five times. “The two times we played, we beat him and he didn’t even score a goal,” he said. He makes fun of the 30-year-old Omar Jamjour, and imitates the frustration of the 38-year-old former Real Madrid star at the time of the defeat.

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The arrival of the champion in the Saudi Professional League, in 2023, with the highest salary in football history – or 200 million euros per season – highlighted Saudi Arabia. In the Qatar 2022 World Cup, the “Green Falcons”, the national team, distinguished themselves by defeating Argentina, who would win the competition a few weeks later. Present in the VIP box that day alongside Gianni Infantino, FIFA President Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman jealously watched the success of the Qatari organization and the power of football as a tool. Soft powerto confirm his dream of also being a World Cup host.

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After Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia wants to be the new El Dorado of soccer. Over the course of several weeks, the kingdom launched an all-out attack, sending panic into the football world.

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About the Author: Aldina Antunes

"Praticante de tv incurável. Estudioso da cultura pop. Pioneiro de viagens dedicado. Viciado em álcool. Jogador."

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