Saudi Arabia is investing billions in football. Starting with Cristiano Ronaldo at the start of the year. After that, the Saudi clubs brought footballers like Karim Benzema, Neymar Jr., Sadio Mane and Riyad Mahrez. There are also names like Firmino, Fabinho, Henderson, Koulibaly, Yassin Bono and others. These stars have agreed to play in the ‘Desert League’ on the condition of sky-high salaries.
Ronaldo is earning 500 million dollars in a two-and-a-half-year contract. Saudi Arabia has offered Neymar a two-year, commercial deal worth $400 million. Benzema will earn the salary he earned in his entire Real Madrid career in two years when he comes to Saudi Arabia at an old age. Al-Ittihad will give him about 300 million dollars.
The question is where the Saudi football authority is getting so much money to invest in football? what is the purpose of investing this huge amount of money?
Source of Funding
The Public Investment Fund (PIF) provides a large sum of money to the Saudi Arabian authority to invest in football. It is the sixth-largest sovereign wealth fund in the world. The financial structure of which is about 776 billion dollars. The fund has invested only 7 billion dollars in football in Saudi Arabia since 2021. The Government of Saudi Arabia established the Public Investment Fund in 1971. It is overseen by the Governor of the country. It is headed by the country’s current Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The fund conducts 60 percent of its operations within Saudi Arabia. It invests in the business, real estate, and tourism sectors of the country. And the main purpose of this investment is to brighten the image of the country and the government.
The Purpose of Investing
The question is, why are the Saudi authorities investing so much money in football? Although it was said to participate in the bid to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup, Saudi has largely withdrawn from it. Not only in football, the Saudi authorities have also invested heavily in other sports. In 2021 they launched LIV Golf. For which about 2 billion dollars have been spent. Besides, Saudi authorities are thinking about investing in cricket recently. They are set to launch a brand new T20 league, the news of signing a deal with the IPL is part of that.