Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Al-Nassr in the Saudi Pro League has not only reshaped the sports landscape but also redefined transfer windows in the dynamic and ever-evolving world of football.
This groundbreaking signing, which took place at the end of last year, has made Saudi Arabia one of the most attractive destinations for players.
Here are four ways that the current influx of superstar players is having an impact on the sport globally.
Elevation of Saudi Pro League profile
Ronaldo’s departure from the English Premier League sent shockwaves through the footballing world, upending transfer dynamics.
His move has opened the door for other high-profile transfers to the Saudi Arabian league. Renowned stars including Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Ruben Neves, Kalidou Koulibaly, Edouard Mendy, Marcelo Brozovic, and Jota have all confirmed they will be playing in the Kingdom, with Roberto Firmino recently joining their ranks.
Ronaldo’s transfer has had an impact beyond the pitch, as former Liverpool star Steven Gerrard has been appointed as the manager of Al-Ettifaq.
Ronaldo stated earlier this year that the Saudi Pro League can be among the world’s best in five years if more top stars sign up. This prediction is gradually turning into reality.
Sponsors embrace the SPL
The appeal of the Saudi Pro League extends beyond football players, captivating even global sporting firms. Notably, Puma is designing kit for Al-Hilal’s men’s and women’s football teams, starting from the upcoming 2023-2024 season.
Additionally, Al-Nassr has formed a partnership with Nike, making them their new clothing manufacturer and further amplifying the league’s global impact.
Surging attendances, world attention
The Saudi Pro League has witnessed a remarkable surge in viewership and global attention.
In the past year alone, attendances have skyrocketed by nearly 150 percent, as reported by the Saudi Press Agency, highlighting the growing popularity and widespread appeal of the league.
Global football events in the Kingdom
Jeddah has recently been confirmed as the host city for the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup, taking place from Dec. 12 to 22. This historic event marks a significant milestone in Saudi Arabia’s sporting journey.
This comes on the back of February’s announcement that Saudi Arabia will host the 2027 AFC Asian Cup.