RIYADH: The deal between the Saudi Arabian Football Federation and its Spanish counterpart to host the Spanish Super Cup competition until 2029 will mean more to the country than just hosting games.
The exchange of knowledge, supporting initiatives and collaborations will open new horizons for the Kingdom’s national team and Saudi football as a whole.
“We have seen the Saudi football team and they have a good chance of qualifying for the World Cup. I think they are doing a good job, and it is not all due to the help they receive from federations such as the Spanish one, but also because they have people who are working very well in this country,” said Luis Rubiales, president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation.
Rubiales supports efforts by Saudi footballing authorities to call on other federations around the world in order to maximize the benefits on all fronts, and acknowledges the commitment shown by the Saudi federation and its president, Yasser Al-Misehal.
Managers and coaches of both countries have been exchanging visits, developing powerful programs to create stronger homegrown players and agendas that will help lift the Saudi national team to the next level.
“We are collaborating in referee training and coach training,” said Rubiales.
The Saudi federation has also been sending players to Spain on one-year camps as part of a grassroots approach to the development of young players in the Kingdom.
A similar initiative in the 2017/2018 season followed an agreement between La Liga and SAFF, with nine Saudi players sent on loan having the opportunity to meet and train with players from La Liga.
Among those who took part were Salem Al-Dossary and Fahad Al-Muwallad, two of the key players in the Saudi national team.
Rubiales said that the two federations also have collaborated on the exchange of knowledge and development of Saudi female players in the national team.
Female players made an official visit to Spain where they met Spanish football players and federation members.
The agreement between the Saudi and Spanish federations highlights working with the latest infrastructure, including stadiums.
“It is very important to work with the best tools and best stadiums, and in that aspect there has been tremendous evolution,” Rubiales said.
King Fahd International Stadium has received an extensive upgrade, and the Saudi Ministry of Sports is committed to encouraging key investments in sports infrastructure and athletes’ development.
Rubiales said that a working formula implemented under the agreement will benefit both federations and players in the long term.
“There will be Saudi players who will go to the European league, I have no doubt,” he added.