Saudi Arabia’s cash splurge on soccer could cause ripple effects across the sports world

Soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Saudi club Al-Nassr, and the kingdom’s growing investments in the sport, could have ripple effects across Europe and the U.S., experts have told CNBC.

Ronaldo’s two-and-a-half-year contract, reportedly worth up to 200 million euros ($212 million) per year including commercial agreements, will make the 37-year-old the highest-paid footballer in history, and the highest-paid athlete in the world.

For context, Ronaldo’s individual annual earnings will exceed the total staff wage bill for roughly half of the clubs in the English Premier League. The former Real Madrid, Manchester United and Juventus star earlier this week contended that the “unique contract” was befitting of his status as a “unique player.”

Author and soccer finance expert Kieran Maguire told CNBC on Thursday that rather than an effort to rival the major European leagues, Al-Nassr’s signing of Ronaldo was a “marketing exercise” that enables the kingdom to diversify its commercial appeal beyond natural resources, given the size of the player’s individual profile. 바카라사이트

“If you take a look at the social media following that somebody of Cristiano Ronaldo’s status brings, it’s far greater than that of an individual football club,” Maguire said.

“Saudi Arabia has a young population, so he will attract that generation. There’s economic benefits, there’s political and societal benefits, and the financial cost is a complete irrelevance.”

Having observed other state-sponsored takeovers over the past decade, along with the success of the contentious FIFA World Cup in Qatar in December, Maguire suggested that Saudi Arabia could look to expand its soccer portfolio in one of two ways.

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