Football is a new display of “soft power” for Saudi Arabia

In terms of Saudi Arabia’s promotional poster, it’s hard to do better. Thursday, January 19, at 6:00 pm, the Paris Saint-Germain team (Paris Saint-Germain), led by Lionel Messi, will face a selection of players from two clubs in the capital of the Kingdom, Al-Hilal and Al-Nasr, on the international soccer field. King Fahd in Riyadh. This exhibition match had an unexpected echo with the reunion between the Argentine, seven-time Ballon d’Or winner who was recently crowned world champion in Qatar, and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, five-time winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year award. ‘Public.

It has been more than two years since the two strikers, whose rivalry punctuated the footballing world from 2009 to 2018, did not challenge each other on the pitch. This meeting may be one of their last face-to-face meetings. It was close, because it was scheduled to take place a year ago, before being postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

At that time, Cristiano Ronaldo was still wearing the colors of Manchester United. His signature at the end of December 2022 with victory – and with a pharaonic decade at stake – represents the kingdom’s latest major coup in its strategy to communicate through sports. “I have no doubt his arrival will improve our league and benefit the Saudi football ecosystem in the long term.”rejoice with Globalism Yasser Al-Mishaal, President of the Saudi Football Association.

Carve out a spot on the world soccer map

By securing the services of one of the best players of his generation in the country “Buying a gem, a character that has something sacred in the eyes of sports players”sums up Raphael Le Majoric, a specialist in the geopolitics of sport in the Gulf states at the University of Tours.

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With the aim of organizing the 2030 World Cup, when is a joint nomination with Egypt and Greece regularly mentioned? “There is no doubt that it would be the absolute honor and privilege. We believe we have many qualities and values ​​needed to host the tournament, from the passionate supporters, to the infrastructure, to the desire to open up our country and bring people together. However, no decision has been made. Explains the head of the Sudanese Armed Forces.

In October 2021, the Kingdom’s Sovereign Wealth Fund (PIF) acquired an 80% stake in Newcastle FC.

Cristiano Ronaldo plays a key role in Saudi Arabia’s bid to earn a place on the world football map. “There are also other elements at play, notably Newcastle taking over a club to legitimize themselves on an international scale.”, states Mr. Le Magoariec. In October 2021, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, acquired 80% of the English club’s shares. The Magpies, who were 19th and penultimate in the Premier League of interest at the time of their acquisition, were now competing against the best teams in the UK.

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