JEDDAH: Football stars from across the world have been voicing their support for a charitable Playstation football match between the former president of Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nasr FC, Saud Al-Suwailem, and head of the Kingdom’s General Entertainment Authority Turki Al-Shaikh.
Al-Shaikh responded to Al-Suwailem’s initial challenge by saying he would participate with his team, Almeria, and donate SR1 million to the recently launched Jood Eskan platform, provided the game was broadcast live on the 29th day of Ramadan.
Jood Eskan was launched on May 16 by the Saudi Ministry of Sports and Saudi Ministry of Housing. One of its competitions is the Jood League, in which participants from teams in the Prince Mohammed bin Salman League compete against each other in a tournament which collects charitable contributions to provide housing for families in need.
Within hours of Al-Shaikh accepting the challenge, football stars from around the world took to social media to support the venture.
Brazil’s former captain Cafu said he would be supporting Al-Shaikh, as did retired Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar, who warned the GEA Chairman to choose wisely, saying, “If your Almeria goalkeeper is not as good as me, you will lose the match, my friend.”
Support for Al-Shaikh also came from Argentinian legend Lionel Messi, former France and Manchester United striker Louis Saha, and former Dutch international Patrick Kluivert.
But there was a lot of love for Al-Nasr FC too, with former Brazil and Real Madrid defender Roberto Carlos revealing his choice saying, “Sheikh Saud, Roberto Carlos speaking, I’m with Al-Nasr. Ciao.”
Juventus center back Leonardo Bonucci asked if Al-Suwailem was ready in a video posted to the former Al-Nasr president’s page, while teammates Paulo Dybala and Claudio Marchisio also offered messages of support for Al-Suwailem’s team: “Forca Al-Nasr.”
“Sheikh Turki, try to win the Playstation game without a red card, my friend,” said Italian defender Marco Materazzi, recalling the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final against France where he scored a goal for Italy before being headbutted by French captain Zinedine Zidane, who received a red card for his actions.