A huge ‘oil money’ is swallowing up the European transfer market.
When discussing the transfer market this summer, you will not be able to leave out the keyword ‘Saudi Arabia’. That’s how threatening it is.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer 메이저놀이터 to Al Nasr in December last year signaled the ‘Saudi Rush’. Although he is not as good as he used to be, Ronaldo is undoubtedly one of the greatest superstars in football history. He also won the Ballon d’Or, the most prestigious award a soccer player can receive, as many as five times.
There was little speculation that a player who made such a mark in football history would make it to the Saudi league. The Saudi league is less well-known compared to the big leagues in Europe. Nonetheless, Ronaldo headed to Saudi Arabia. The reason is simple. It was a huge salary.
Ronaldo received a £25m salary from Manchester United just before moving to Al Nasr. However, Al Nasr offered an annual salary of 200 million euros (approximately 289.3 billion won). His salary has jumped seven times compared to his time at Manchester United. He was an offer that no one could easily refuse. Karim Benzema, who moved to Al Ittihad this summer, is on a similar level.
Thanks to this, well-known players in Europe chose the Saudi stage. Most of them are past their prime, but there were some players who were in their prime, such as Ruben Neves, who moved to Al Hilal. The power of ‘oil money’ was absolute.
It’s not all here. Although the transfer did not happen, Al-Hilal offered Lionel Messi an annual salary of 400 million euros (approximately 578.6 billion won). That’s almost twice the annual salary of Ronaldo. In addition, he seduced Kylian Mbafe, who has recently been in conflict with Paris Saint-Germain, with an annual salary of 700 million euros (about 1 trillion won). The transfer of the two players did not come through, but it is a money spent that will surprise everyone.
The reason why the Saudi league is growing like this is because of the ‘Saudi Arabia Vision 2030’. Saudi Arabia wants to reduce its dependence on oil by 2030 and create a diversified economy. One of them is the ‘soccer industry’. It is a plan to create an economy after gathering famous European players and drawing attention from all over the world to the Saudi league.
Of course, it is also true that there is always controversy over ‘sports washing’, which is trying to cover up political issues such as Saudi Arabia’s suppression of domestic human rights through sports. However, the fact that Saudi Arabia is prioritizing sports in seeking a transition to a new era, such as new and renewable energy, away from the existing structure that relied on oil, is something that the Korean sports world, which has not been able to expand the sports industry, should pay attention to.
Meanwhile, the Saudi Professional League in the 2023-24 season will be broadcast live exclusively in Korea on SPOTV NOW, operated by sports broadcasting channel Spotibi. It is also available on premium sports TV channels SPOTV ON and SPOTV Prime.