Saudi soccer eyeing participation in Europe’s Champions League

Saudi Pro League winner proposed as a wild card entry
Saudi soccer eyeing participation in Europe’s Champions League
Saudi Arabia plans to join Europe’s Champions League

In a bid to take its football scene to a higher notch, Saudi Arabia is reportedly eyeing to join the Champions League. Organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), it is Europe’s top football competition.

According to reports, Saudi authorities want the Saudi Pro League (SPL) winner to be a wild card entry to the Champions League’s 2024-25 season. 

Potential scenario

To make it happen, UEFA would need to follow a single championship-like format accommodating 36 teams. Each team would play eight matches before advancing to the knockout stages, increasing the number of matches.

This proposed format change will give an opportunity for the SPL champion to play in the league.

If the UEFA accepts the bold proposal, it will substantially elevate the prestige of the SPL. 

Moreover, it will introduce an interesting movement in the global football scene with stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, and Karim Benzema potentially gracing European soccer fields again.

Investing in sports 

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has been turning its attention to sports. Since 2021, the government has already shelled out at least $6.3 bn in sports deals.

In the football scene, domestic clubs have been acquiring top-tier players. After Ronaldo left Manchester United, he joined Riyadh-based Al Nassr in December last year. The contract, which will expire in 2025, is reportedly worth $200 mn.

Benzema, N’Golo Kanté, Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly, Edouard Mendy, Roberto Firmino, and Marcelo Brozović are among the players who also moved to the SPL.

Neymar is the latest addition to the list, as he recently signed a two-year deal with Al Hilal. While no financial details were revealed, the media estimates that he could net $175 mn.

Read: From Ronaldo to Mourinho: Saudi continues to attract top talents in soccer

Talks yet to yield results

Saudi’s football authorities and UEFA leaders have met on several occasions. 

However, while Saudi’s proposal to join the Champions League holds potential, especially with the roster of global footballers that the SPL now has, the discussions are yet to produce concrete results.

In an article by Spain’s leading sports publication MARCA, the SPL winner joining the Champions League is considered to “be on the threshold of the impossible, at least in the next few years.”

For now, the UEFA is still not considering inviting foreign teams to the league. 

Nevertheless, the organization is exploring more avenues to boost the profitability of European football. One of those is a Super Cup tournament in the US, a project that is already in progress. 

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