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Cristiano Ronaldo

Saudi Arabia sports minister sets out plans to attract more superstars

Saudi Arabia’s sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal has outlined his plan to lure more superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo to the Saudi Pro League.

Ronaldo’s megabucks switch to Al-Nassr at the start of the year has highly increased foreign interest in the competition.

The 37-year-old’s arrival has seen 137 channels around the planet acquire broadcasting rights for Saudi’s top-tier competition.

But it could be only the beginning of Saudi football’s expansion as the league’s administration aims to bring more high-profile names.

In an interview with The Athletic, ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Prince Abdulaziz stated: “We have a strategy, and the strategy is called the club support strategy.

“We started in 2019 with the clubs, because we saw there was so much potential in the clubs but it wasn’t structured in the right way.

“Football within the kingdom wasn’t structured in the right place. The government is subsidising a lot of the budgets for the clubs to participate on a high level to make sure we have good viewership and good football for people to grow that industry in the kingdom, and it is the number one sport in the kingdom.”

Ronaldo has already tallied eight goals in seven league outings since swapping Manchester United for Al-Nassr in the wake of the Qatar World Cup.

He may have only traced the way for a series of eye-catching acquisitions in the Saudi Pro League.

After the Portuguese hotshot, another megastar could be on his way to joining the Saudi Pro League, with Lionel Messi emerging as a transfer target for Al-Hilal.

The Argentine’s contract at Paris Saint-Germain runs out at the end of the season, and he has yet to commit his future to the Parc des Princes, opening the possibility for a shock switch to the Middle East.

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