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The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

Soccer fans worry about effect of Saudi Arabian clubs

Coveted+star+soccer+player+Neymar+Jr+has+announced+his+commitment+to+a+star+soccer+team.+His+contract+is+worth+up+to+%26%2336%3B400+million.
Photo used with permission from Google Commons
Coveted star soccer player Neymar Jr has announced his commitment to a star soccer team. His contract is worth up to $400 million.

A man in Paris was forced to learn that his favorite Brazilian winger, Neymar Jr., had been sold to Al-Hilal. Meanwhile, a football fan in Manchester must watch his beloved Ronaldo wears Al Nassr yellow instead of red. Across Europe in Spain, a Real Madrid supporter is disappointed to see their striker of 14 years, Benzema, holding up an Al-Ittihad jersey.

Saudi Arabian soccer clubs are spending a great amount of money to buy some of the best players from around the world, which is concerning fans. This trend began with the signing of legend Cristiano Ronaldo by Al-Nassr from Manchester United in December of 2022. Since then over 94 players have followed suit by joining Saudi clubs from the top five overseas leagues, which include France’s Ligue 1, Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A, Germany’s Bundesliga and England’s Premier League. The most impactful transfer to Saudi Arabia was Ronaldo “because it made a pathway for other players to come,” sophomore Kevin Sun said.

The Saudi Pro League can spend this amount of money thanks to the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which partially owns and finances the four biggest clubs in the league, Al-Ittihad, Al-Ahli, Al-Nassr and Al Hilal. This raises questions among fans about whether it is ethical for the Saudi Arabian wealth fund to be investing in soccer clubs. These government-funded clubs are “causing the other clubs not owned by the government to fail financially and not be able to compete,” Sun said.

In the most recent summer transfer window Saudi Arabian clubs spent just under $1 billion, the second most only behind the English Premier League. Apart from Ronaldo, the biggest names to join Saudi clubs include Sadio Mané, N’Golo Kanté, Karim Benzema and Neymar Jr. One complaint of fans is the effects of this spending on the more watched European leagues. They argue that by buying the best players from these bigger leagues, Saudi clubs are reducing interest in these other leagues. “When Neymar left for Saudi, I lost interest in watching PSG,” Sun said.

Soccer fans reported that they blame the players for leaving for their current clubs simply for the money that Saudi clubs can pay them, while others understand the choices of players to leave. Transferring to Saudi clubs “brings them new opportunities and an improved lifestyle,” sophomore Urielle Ngako said.

Additionally, fans are concerned about the financial effects that these expensive transfers will have on European leagues. “It does impact other leagues by inflating the price of many players, causing the other top five leagues to suffer financially,” sophomore Shreyas Ganeshan said.

As a result of Saudi signings, fans are willing to make the switch over to watching the SPL. Ngako said that she would consider watching the SPL following these transfers. On the contrary, other fans remain loyal to European leagues because most of the SPL is not half as good, Sun said.

Soccer supporters are eager to see how Saudi Arabia will continue to affect global soccer.

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About the Contributor
Cameron Cowen, staff writer
Sophomore Cameron Cowen is a staff writer in his first year on the Common Sense staff. In his free time, he likes to play soccer and spend time with his friends and family. You can find him on Instagram @cameronwcowen.
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