Al-Sport: Ronaldo turns into a tool of power for Saudi Arabia

Dark world of sports
“Actor” Ronaldo turns into a tool of power

By Stefan Ursfeld

In Cristiano Ronaldo’s wake, legions of aging soccer stars like Marco Reus will move from Europe to Saudi Arabia. The rumor mill is seething, money is pouring from the floor. The race for power in the Gulf is accelerating. It’s about billions and the future.

Cristiano Ronaldo continues to settle comfortably in his new imaginary world. The former world class player has become a strong draw in Saudi Arabia, drawing European football names to Riyadh. In the capital of Saudi Arabia, they could make the last few years of their career comfortable financially at least. In return, they call the desert country by their names to achieve Vision 2030 Dismemberment of the journalist Re-position, free from dependence on oil and gas exports and create a new and friendly image.

Marco Reus, Sergio Ramos, Eden Hazard, Luka Modric, N’Golo Kante and Roberto Firmino: they were all linked to victory in the days after Ronaldo moved to the plateau amid the Saudi desert landscape. The Saudi Professional League leaders have transformed in a matter of weeks into the most popular club in world football in their mid-to-late 30s and are now being discussed as the alternative bid of the century in contract talks. “It is normal for other clubs to be interested in a player like Marco whose contract expires in six months,” he said. Reuss Consultant Dirk Lever recently and was certainly pleased with the rumors brewing ahead of upcoming contract talks at Dortmund.

The latest rumor indicates that Barcelona midfield legend Sergio Busquets is heading to Riyadh. At 34, Busquets retired from the Spanish national team after the World Cup, also in the early stages of his career. He will leave Barcelona in the summer. So far it was certain that he would then join David Beckham’s MLS draft Inter Miami. But negotiations with the Florida club are being delayed, and there is no agreement yet. So why not Saudi Arabia, the country where Cristiano Ronaldo now resides in a giant bottle opener, the “Four Seasons Hotel” in Riyadh?

Saudi Arabia is under pressure after a quiet start

What at first glance is merely an argument in contract negotiations, at second, of course, also represents the Americanization of Saudi football. Just a few years ago, aging soccer players were drawn almost exclusively to MLS. But less than four years before the World Cup in North America in 2026, there were as many world champions under contract as there are in the Bundesliga (both Leverkusen’s Exequiel Palacio and Atlanta United’s Thiago Almada remained marginal numbers in Qatar). The development of soccer in the United States has been going on for a long time. Footballers from European or South American leagues rarely sign there to tap again. The Pensioners’ League is so well established that a return to Europe seems possible.

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Ronaldo attracts a lot of attention to his new club.

(Photo: Image Alliance/Associated Press)

None of this is a problem for Saudi Arabia right now. They just want to sparkle and entertain the world and its population, which is 70 percent less than 35 to 70 percent, with Cristiano Ronaldo. which they managed respectably for the time being. The club’s Instagram account has already grown from more than ten million followers to more than eleven million since Ronaldo’s signing at the end of December, and the Arabic-language Twitter account has almost reached 4.3 million followers for Borussia Dortmund with 3.8 million followers. Little known outside of Asia, the club has quickly put itself on the world football map, if not for sporting reasons.

“Saudi Arabia realized a few years ago that it needed more than just hard power, namely military and political resources, to be a strong nation internationally,” said Daniel Reich, a visiting scholar at Georgetown University Qatar, recently. CNN“You also have to invest in soft power. Qatar is showing that this can work well.” The small neighbor of Saudi Arabia has been securing its existence through sporting events for a quarter of a century, and was able to extricate itself from the blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia in the middle of 2010.

Qatar is a great example

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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets the Emir of Qatar (right) in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries in Riyadh in December 2022.

(Photo: Image Alliance/Associated Press)

The 2022 Winter World Cup was a protective shield for the emirate, which has long been closely linked to international politics. With the end of a tournament that was ultimately only contested in Europe and the United States, some Qataris have fallen, according to the local news site.Doha newsIn “Post-WM-Depression.” Others threw themselves into the scheme’s preparations Olympic show 2036. Qatar is poised to become the sports capital of the world in the long run. And at the same time continue to build your own empire in world football. Like the City Football Group, which is majority owned by the ruling family of the United Arab Emirates with flagship club Manchester City and New York City Football Club, Qatar also aims for long-term dominance in club football.

Nasser al-KhelaifiMessi, president and leader of Paris Saint-Germain, is said to be aiming to acquire a minority stake in at least one English Premier League club through Qatar Sports Investment (QSI). Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Manchester United were selected. Over the past 12 years, Al-Khelaifi has built a stronghold in UEFA, the European Football Association. Meanwhile, Bayern Munich is currently negotiating a new high-paying contract Qatar Airways. The advertising deal was met with great resistance from the record champions’ fans, but the arguments never reached the top of the club. The emirate’s other investments include prestigious ones horse race In England and France, investing in Cricket And, of course, hosting the World Athletics and Handball Championships in 2010.

Lots of world championships, Olympic ambitions, soccer clubs and horse racing: Saudi Arabia is far from that. But like its smaller neighbour, the kingdom now also wants to use sport as a geopolitical tool. After their first major investment in traditional English club Newcastle United, they are now luring stars directly into the desert, also to underscore their 2030 World Cup efforts. With Ronaldo and the signing of Lionel Messi as the kingdom’s ambassador off the field, the two key figures of the latest generation of world football are contractually linked to the kingdom. Saudi Arab.

What the Kingdom hopes for the 2030 World Cup

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Bin Salman celebrates the Saudis’ 2-1 victory over Argentina as FIFA President Gianni Infantino straightens his pants.

(Photo: Image Alliance/firo Sportphoto/PSI)

Winning the World Cup and being a Messi legend in Qatar, the country that provides much of his livelihood through Paris Saint-Germain, has made the Argentine even more valuable. In this post-World Cup January, Saudi Arabia is the epicenter of soccer stars’ world anyway. Messi and Ronaldo will meet in a few days Show another duel Progress on the field and the Spanish League shines with its stars for the Super Cup. German world champion Toni Kroos will also be present with Real Madrid. He shouldn’t care about the lack of rights of the LGBTQI community. Before the World Cup he still owned Qatar Criticize. A complex world that soccer players have to navigate and sometimes lose track of.

At the moment, the joint offer with Egypt and Greece is nothing more than an offer specific rumorWho was encouraged by FIFA President Gianni Infantino during the World Cup. Not only did he like to show himself off to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but he also hinted at more winter world championships in his recent press conference – a mandatory requirement for another desert World Cup. The World Cup, which some observers expect to be held exclusively in Saudi Arabia, and not in Greece and Egypt either. Such a global event would give the closed and highly conservative kingdom a new image.

How did Ronaldo become an actor?

Like Qatar, Saudi Arabia is not primarily interested in sports. In addition to diversification and sports washing, the country is also interested in positioning itself as a sports stronghold par excellence in the Gulf region compared to Qatar or the United Arab Emirates, which have the same ambition. Football and weirdos planned for 2029 Asian Winter Games Near the nascent desert skyscraper city Neum They are the building blocks of this strategy. In addition, the kingdom has witnessed in recent years, among other things, the world heavyweight boxing championship between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua as well as “Blood money roundCriticized because the multi-million dollar LIV Golf International Series has made a name. As in every other self-respecting Gulf country – namely Qatar, the UAE and Bahrain – the Formula 1 circus does too. Imland Station.

It is all part of a development that is increasingly alienating sport, and of course football in the first place, from the very essence of what happens on the pitch. Written in a newspaperguardianThis Week: Needs a reality check. Ronaldo no longer plays sports. He is an actor, a general amplifier, and an instrument of power. “All of this can already be seen in the FIFA World Cup in Qatar that failed but still dazzles the crowd – the perfect candidate for a new world of football that leads directly into the geopolitical mania in the Gulf.

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