A Saudi Arabian businessman is leading the bidding to watch the latest chapter in Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s celebrated rivalry in global football with a 10 million riyal (₹21.64 crore) offer for a ticket to the showpiece game.
The Saudi government’s entertainment arm said on Twitter that Mushref Al-Ghamdi, general manager of real estate group AqarOne, was the leader so far in an auction ending on January 17.
The “Beyond Imagination” ticket is for a match featuring a combined team from Saudi clubs Al Nassr - who recently signed Ronaldo - and Al Hilal versus Messi’s Paris St Germain.
The January 19 game in Riyadh will be the pair’s first on-pitch meeting since Juventus beat Barcelona 3-0 in December 2020.
The buyer of the ticket has the right to attend the winner’s ceremony after the match, enter dressing rooms, and meet the two men who for years have vied to be the world’s greatest.
Though revenue from the auction is to go to charity, the event may fuel accusations of “sportswashing”: distracting attention from rights abuses by splashing money on sport.
As well as attracting Ronaldo, Saudi Arabia has signed up Messi as a tourism ambassador. PSG is owned by the Qatari government, which has just staged the World Cup.