A billion to Ronaldo: so Saudi Arabia wants to take the 2030 World Cup

Of Pierfrancesco Catucci

The Portuguese will play for the next two and a half years for Al Nassr for 500 million, then he will be ambassador of the Saudi candidacy (with Egypt and Greece) for another 500 million

It is said that money cannot buy happiness. Sar, but the two photos published on Instagram around 10pm on December 30th – and cost a billion euros – have given so much joy to all the fans of Al Nassr, the football team of Riyadh (the capital of Saudi Arabia) which will pay 16.7 million euros for the next two and a half years per month (twice what Lukaku earns at Inter in a year) a Cristiano Ronaldo. Multiplied by the approximately 30 months of the contract – sporting – they make 500 million euros. Exactly the sum that the most famous number 7 in the world will also earn for the following 5 years, from the moment he stops playing (here too it seems to be written: at the age of 40) and until 2030. Because to convince Mister Billion to abjure his dogma (I have no intention of ending my career on minor stages, he said 7 years ago) the sheikhs also bought his image with only one goal: obtain the assignment of the 2030 World Cup to be organized together with Egypt and Greece (currently the opponents are Spain, Portugal and Ukraine on one side and Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay on the other).

The clamor generated by the first Arab (and winter here) World Cup in history, as well as the triumphant economic data pitted by football number one Gianni Infantino on the eve of the final between Argentina and France, they detonated the already latent conviction of Al Nassr president Musalli Al-Muammar — who studied finance and then attended two executive masters in marketing and international sports law in Manchester and Madrid — that perhaps the enterprise is worth the expense. However, the storm that overwhelmed the ball after the 2018 investigation of Sunday Times

(also became a docu-series) who unmasked the bribes to push Doha’s candidacy and who lined up all the pieces that had led to the beheading of the top football leaders as early as 2015, presupposes the need to work more and differently on the persuasion of the goodness of the Saudi candidacy .

And who better than one of the two living footballers who have monopolized attention over the past two decades? Having disposed of the shock for a figure that no one in the world of sport had even dreamed of approaching, Ronaldo will continue to do his job: it’s easy to imagine that he will score an avalanche of goals in a mediocre championship like the Saudi one and tell the whole world how good life is and how right it is that in eight years the elite of world football returns to those latitudes. A detail? In less than 24 hours after the announcement of his hiring, the number of Instagram followers of the official Al Nassr profile quintupled (from 860 thousand to 4.1 million). Nothing worth a billion euros, please, but we’re still on day 1.

In recent months there has been a lot of discussion about influencers hosted by Qatar to talk about their first World Cup, stars from all over the world invited to attend an event that, for better or for worse, will go down in history. But also of the increasingly evident double standard between VIPs (and also Vvipwith two Vs, because there is someone more equal than the others even among them) and ordinary people who arrived in Qatar just to cheer on their national team. We discussed human rights, of dead migrant workers for the construction of infrastructure, the protests of the players who tried (and then gave up) a wearing a headband with the colors of the rainbow in a country where homosexuality is a crime, of the Iranians who have also tried to make their voices heard (falling silent during the national anthem) against their regime. So it’s better to work in advance, they must have thought in Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, how much is a billion really worth in those parts?

December 31, 2022 (change December 31, 2022 | 15:21)

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A billion to Ronaldo: so Saudi Arabia wants to take the 2030 World Cup

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