The Saudi shimmy: Oil’s well with football

by Rashmee

Posted on August 19, 2023 / The Times of India


Petrodollars flowing to football isn’t novel, but European jibes betray an outdated mindset. Stars like Ronaldo, Neymar playing in the conservative kingdom could have a transformative impact

When the Saudi Pro League kicked off its new season on August 12, the same day as the English Premier League, the world’s richest and most popular football division, the reaction in European capitals was a cocktail of condescension, cynicism and censoriousness.
Up went the cry that the Saudis would never really be match fit. This, despite spending nearly $500mn this summer on mega stars including Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Sadio Mané. It was a somewhat snarky reference to the reality that levels of Saudi obesity are roughly three times the global average per 2016 World Health Organisation data.

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Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK

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