Cristiano Ronaldo hails his record-breaking Roshn Saudi League season as ‘one of the best’

Cristiano Ronaldo hails his record-breaking Roshn Saudi League season as ‘one of the best’
The Al-Nassr captain and forward was presented recently with the Top Goalscorer award after his incredible achievement in just 31 games. (SPL)
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Updated 04 June 2024
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Cristiano Ronaldo hails his record-breaking Roshn Saudi League season as ‘one of the best’

Cristiano Ronaldo hails his record-breaking Roshn Saudi League season as ‘one of the best’
  • Al-Nassr captain won Top Goalscorer award for 2023/2024 after netting 35 goals
  • Lauds teammates and ‘very proud’ to beat the Saudi league record

RIYADH: Cristiano Ronaldo has described his record-breaking 2023/2024 Roshn Saudi League campaign — in which he netted 35 goals to become the league’s all-time leading striker — as “one of the best seasons” of his career.

The Al-Nassr captain and forward was presented recently with the Top Goalscorer award after his incredible achievement in just 31 games, surpassing Abderrazak Hamdallah’s mark of 34 goals in the 2018/2019 season.

In addition to his goalscoring prowess, the 39-year-old Portuguese legend recorded 11 assists.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner said: “It means a lot. I feel very happy. It’s probably one of the best seasons I’ve ever had in my career in terms of goals but assists too.

“To be honest it means a lot because it’s my work. I have to be honest and say it’s not something I was looking for at the beginning of the season but over time I started to see that it was possible.

“So, I have the opportunity to say thank you to my teammates because without the team nothing individually would have been possible, but I feel very proud to beat the Saudi league record. It’s great for me, I feel happy, and this is my motivation to play football, to train every time and to carry on like that.”

Since joining Al-Nassr in late December 2022, Ronaldo, whose side finished second this season, has scored 49 goals in 47 league appearances, and 64 in 69 games in all competitions.

In the 2023 calendar year, he also netted the most club goals in the world with 54 strikes in 59 appearances. His 2023/2024 strike rate included back-to-back hat tricks against Al-Tai and Abha in the Roshn Saudi League.

Ronaldo’s focus is now on Portugal and the 2024 European Championships in Germany where they face the Czech Republic, Turkiye and Georgia in the group stages. But he is also eagerly awaiting the 2024/2025 Roshn Saudi League season.

Ronaldo said: “I think the goals for each season is the kind of the same, it’s to do your best and win titles. If possible, to collect individual (trophies) as well but my goal is to be the same — to be the same Cristiano that you saw this season, to do my best, to achieve goals with Al-Nassr and with my Portugal national team as well. To maintain my level is what I’m looking for.”


Moussa Diaby joins Al-Ittihad from Aston Villa

Moussa Diaby joins Al-Ittihad from Aston Villa
Updated 25 July 2024
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Moussa Diaby joins Al-Ittihad from Aston Villa

Moussa Diaby joins Al-Ittihad from Aston Villa
  • Moussa Diaby joins fellow Frenchmen Karim Benzema and Ngolo Kante in Jeddah

RIYADH: Frenchman Moussa Diaby has joined Al-Ittihad, the club announced on Thursday.
The Jeddah team posted an announcement video with the player wearing Ittihad’s black and yellow jersey.
He will join the Tigers on a five-year contract after successfully passing a medical exam in Alicante, Spain, a club statement said.
“Hello Tigers, I am here,” Diaby announces in the video, holding a vintage rotary phone.
“I am thrilled to join Al-Ittihad and be part of a project that aims to build a strong team reflecting the club’s rich history and values. I look forward to collaborating with my new teammates to achieve victories and bring joy to our dedicated fans,” said the Frenchman.
“Diaby has an impressive track record, having played in the top leagues of France, Germany, and England, where he has showcased his talent and skill as a winger,” the statement read.
Domingos Oliveira, the CEO of Ittihad, said: “Our sports committee identified the need to strengthen the winger position with an exceptional player, and we are confident that Moussa Diaby is one of the top players who stand out globally in this role.”
The 25-year-old midfielder played 54 games for English Premier League side Aston Villa, including 25 appearances last season during their impressive fourth place finish.
In Spain, the player was welcomed by the team’s sporting director, Ramon Planes, and introduced to his new teammates and the technical and administrative staff.
He joins fellow Frenchmen Karim Benzema and Ngolo Kante in the west coast city.
The left-footed Diaby, a pacy and versatile player, is not known for scoring lots of goals but his attacking threat will be an advantage for the Tigers.
Ittihad had a disappointing season last year with a fifth place finish, after winning the Saudi Pro League title a year earlier.
The Jeddah side has brought in veteran French player Laurent Blanc as coach to boost their chances against the other big three clubs in the SPL: Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr and Al-Ahli.
Ittihad are currently in pre-season training in Spain and will play Seville on Friday.


IMG signs 5-year deal to become broadcast producer of Saudi soccer events

IMG signs 5-year deal to become broadcast producer of Saudi soccer events
Updated 24 July 2024
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IMG signs 5-year deal to become broadcast producer of Saudi soccer events

IMG signs 5-year deal to become broadcast producer of Saudi soccer events
  • The partnership with the Saudi Pro League and Saudi Arabian Football Federation will start next season and cover Roshn Saudi League, Saudi Super Cup and King Cup matches
  • ‘The SPL is poised to deliver an unparalleled football-viewing experience to fans around the world through technology, innovation and talent,’ says SPL CEO Omar Mugharbel

RIYADH: The Saudi Pro League and Saudi Arabian Football Federation have agreed a new five-year production-partnership deal with global sports, events and representation company IMG.
Beginning next season IMG will take the role of broadcast producer for the Roshn Saudi League, King Cup and Saudi Super Cup, with the aim of providing best-in-class production quality, innovation and consistency across the events.
The organizations said on Wednesday said that broadcasts in coming seasons will feature more dynamic storytelling and captivating content highlighting the excitement of the matches and celebrating the culture and passion that drive the sport.
This will enable partners to provide deeper insights and elevate the levels of engagement and entertainment, they added, to enhance the viewing experience for fans around the world and foster a deeper connection with the league.
SPL CEO Omar Mugharbel said the agreement represents a significant step forward for the league as its transformation and growth continues on and off the pitch.
“Our collaboration with IMG reflects our commitment to bringing world-class production standards to Saudi football, with the league the central host producer,” he added.
“By leveraging the expertise of IMG and maintaining strong partnerships with local and regional distributors, the SPL is poised to deliver an unparalleled football-viewing experience to fans around the world through technology, innovation and talent.”
Barney Francis, IMG’s executive vice president of studios, said: “The Saudi Pro League is one of the most exciting and fastest-growing leagues in global football, with fans around the world now tuning in to watch thrilling action between some of the game’s biggest stars.
“In today’s battle for attention, it’s critical for rights holders to take control of their narrative and innovate. We are excited to help SPL take its content offering and storytelling to the next level for viewers and broadcasters, and to provide opportunities for local broadcast and production talent to be part of the journey.”
The organizations said IMG will help the SPL and SAFF implement advanced remote-production technologies so that producers can oversee matches taking place in several cities on the same day and ensure the highest production standards are maintained regardless of location.
IMG produces content for some of the world’s biggest football leagues and other sporting events, including the English Premier League, Major League Soccer for Apple TV, CBS coverage of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, Ultimate Fighting Championship, and golf events including The Open, Ryder Cup and the DP World Tour.


Diogo Jota says Riyadh Esports World Cup ‘a truly amazing experience’

Diogo Jota says Riyadh Esports World Cup ‘a truly amazing experience’
Updated 22 July 2024
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Diogo Jota says Riyadh Esports World Cup ‘a truly amazing experience’

Diogo Jota says Riyadh Esports World Cup ‘a truly amazing experience’
  • Liverpool and Portugal star, an avid gamer and investor, watched all the ‘Dota2 Riyadh Masters’ and ‘Counter-Strike 2’ action, and met esports players

RIYADH: Diogo Jota, the Liverpool and Portugal footballer, who attended the Esports World Cup in Riyadh on Sunday, has declared the globe’s largest gaming festival “a truly amazing experience.”

Jota, an avid gamer and investor in multinational esports organization Galaxy Racer, watched all the action at Boulevard Riyadh City as teams contested the finals of the “Dota2 Riyadh Masters” and “Counter-Strike 2” competitions.

The eight-week Esports World Cup features a unique cross-game structure pitting the top clubs and players against one another across 22 competitions in 21 leading games.

Held within the 8,000-capacity Saudi Esports Federation Arena at Boulevard Riyadh City, it runs until Aug. 25 and has a tournament prize pool of $60 million, the largest in the history of the sport.

The attacker, who has 42 caps and played for Portugal at the UEFA Euro 2024 this summer, met participating stars, including from Saudi Arabia’s Team Falcons, and happily swapped gaming and esports stories.

Jota said: “Being here at the inaugural Esports World Cup is a truly amazing experience. The organization and scale behind this event are truly impressive, even more than I anticipated.

“I’ve always believed in the potential of esports, even before starting my own team, and EWC is proof that this scene is evolving rapidly. This level of investment and infrastructure is exactly what esports needs to grow and reach a wider audience.

“I’m excited to see how EWC continues to evolve and push the boundaries of competitive gaming.”

Jota, who wears the No. 20 for Liverpool, was ranked world No. 1 in FIFA 21’s Champions Leaderboard. A regular streamer on Twitch, he also won an invitational series of FIFA matches, run by the Premier League, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Then a Wolverhampton Wanderers player, Jota defeated future Liverpool team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold in the final.

Last year, Jota’s own esports organization, Diogo Jota Esports, was rebranded to Luna Galaxy — coming under the Galaxy Racer umbrella.

Prior to this, Diogo Jota Esports participated in the FIFAe Finals at Gamers8, organized by the Saudi Esports Federation, at Boulevard Riyadh City last summer, with Daniel “DFernandes” Fernandes finishing in the top 16.

More than 1,500 players, of over 60 nationalities, are battling it out at the inaugural Esports World Cup. Week three of the competition features action in the “Dota2 Riyadh Masters,” “Counter Strike 2,” and “PUBG Mobile” contests.


SAFF launches first edition of Regional Under-13 Championship in Taif

SAFF launches first edition of Regional Under-13 Championship in Taif
Updated 21 July 2024
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SAFF launches first edition of Regional Under-13 Championship in Taif

SAFF launches first edition of Regional Under-13 Championship in Taif
  • Top talents from academies across 14 cities, provinces, and regions are featuring in the tournament
  • The competition will provide valuable experience for young up-and-coming referees who have been selected from SAFF Referees’ Academy

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Football Federation has launched the first edition of the Regional Under-13 Championship in Taif, running from July 18–30.

Currently in its third day, the 12-day tournament features 14 regional teams, showcasing top talents from academies across 14 cities, provinces, and regions.

The 14 regional teams competing in the championship are from Al-Ahsa, Jazan, Najran, Jouf, Hail, Al-Qassim, the Eastern Province, Riyadh, Jeddah, Asir, Madinah, Makkah, Hafar Al-Batin, and Tabuk.

SAFF’s Technical Director Nasser Larguet said: “The championship represents the result of the significant work supported by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, and the outcome is the creation of the Regional Under-13 League. Clear goals and strategic plans have been set to discover and support young talents.”

Additionally, the tournament will provide valuable experience for young up-and-coming referees, who have been selected from the SAFF Referees’ Academy, further contributing to the development of skilled officials in the sport.

Manuel Navarro, president of the SAFF Referees Committee, said: “The Regional Under-13 Championship is an opportunity to develop promising referees, especially since it will witness the participation of 32 young referees. The committee aims to increase their refereeing hours and enhance their experience.”

This tournament is a significant part of SAFF’s strategy to scout and develop over 4,000 young talents by 2025, supporting the growth and future of Saudi football.


Al-Ittihad unveils new kit for 2024-25 season

Al-Ittihad unveils new kit for 2024-25 season
Updated 20 July 2024
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Al-Ittihad unveils new kit for 2024-25 season

Al-Ittihad unveils new kit for 2024-25 season
  • The classic striped design in yellow and black is based on the Nike shirt, with its authentic heritage
  • The kit’s new design represents the architectural style “Rawashin”

JEDDAH: Al-Ittihad FC has unveiled its kit for the 2024/25 season in collaboration with Nike.

Al-Ittihad presented its distinctive new kit in photo sessions in the center of historic Jeddah, among its alleys and ancient buildings, in cooperation with Al-Balad Development Company, the club’s official sponsor.

The classic striped design in yellow and black is based on the Nike shirt, with its authentic heritage, which fans have loved and celebrated for 97 years.

The kit’s new design represents the architectural style, “Rawashin,” the prominent traditional wooden panels used to cover windows and external openings at the old houses of Jeddah — considered an icon of the city’s heritage.

Domingos De Oliveira, CEO of Al-Ittihad Club, described the new kit as a symbol of the club’s history: “We worked closely with Nike in order to ensure access to the best that can be presented in the new kit, while preserving the established values of the basic kit, which represents a unique identity, after maintaining it for nearly a century.

“In the new kit, we worked to blend the heritage of Al-Ittihad Club with the history of the region from which it started, with a modern spirit that creates innovation in order to emerge with a product that reflects the club’s vision of starting from the base of its great history toward more glory and development in the current era and the future.

“Attention was paid to all the details in terms of the degree of color and their overlapping in the dividing line between them in the same way that the wooden columns in the Rawashin buildings of Jeddah are intertwined.”

For the first time, the home kit will be presented in three categories — the official home kit, which the players will wear, the stadium category, and the fans category.