Saudi clubs have had a significant impact on global soccer, and they want in on the UEFA Champions League. To sign high-profile players, the four Public Investment Fund (PIF)-owned teams received massive funds.
The chance was seized by European teams, who stocked their coffers, but questions are being raised. Some of the biggest names in soccer have relocated to the Middle East in 2023. For example, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Neymar call the Saudi league home.
Thus, the Saudi Pro League’s (SPL) spending spree stoked speculation the country’s newly acquired clout in the sport may one day earn it a coveted berth in one of UEFA’s premier tournaments.
Premier League teams cashed out on Saudi offers
Nasser Al-Khelaifi recently won re-election as the Chairman of the Association of European Clubs. He and the rest of the ECA are keeping a close eye on the current situation. However, the Paris Saint-Germain chairman dismissed the possibility of any Saudi Pro League teams joining the UEFA Champions League.
Following the ECA general meeting in Berlin, Al-Khelaifi claimed that teams should not have sold players to Saudi clubs if they were frightened of them. Many teams in the Premier League have done this, including Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Fulham, and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Meanwhile, ironically, PSG received the most sum when they sold Neymar to Al-Hilal for €90 million.
ECA Chairman comments on Saudi clubs in Champions League
“Most clubs have sold their players to them. So, if we are not satisfied, why do we sell our players to them? Today we are trying to develop and grow… more European clubs are taking part in European competitions. This is what small and medium-sized clubs want,” he is quoted as saying by beIN SPORTS.
“I don’t think there are any other clubs coming from outside of Europe. I don’t know what will happen in a few years but today I don’t believe that a club from outside will play here. If there is a Super Cup or something, why not?
“But playing in Europe in a competition, if you are not European, you know it better than me, I do not think. This deserves to be clear and to reassure his colleagues in European clubs.”
PHOTO: IMAGO / Just Pictures
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