The Full Time Show Podcast: Decoding Saudi Arabia’s growing influence on the world of football

Sportstar’s Amitabha Das Sharma, Aneesh Dey and Anish Pathiyil decode Saudi Arabia’s meteoric rise in global football in the latest episode of The Full Time Show.

Published : Aug 27, 2023 09:15 IST - 2 MINS READ

The summer transfer window of 2023 saw a new entrant prising players away from the top leagues of Europe. The Saudi Pro League has pulled in a vast array of players into its fold, headlined by the arrivals of Neymar and Karim Benzema among others.

Riyadh-based Al-Nassr’s signing of Cristiano Ronaldo was the starting point of the transfer frenzy as the four PIF-backed clubs from the country vied to secure the signatures of top European players.

ALSO READ: Sponsorships, power and money- West Asia’s rising influence in global football

Saudi’s hold in football though did not start with Ronaldo.


The country has had a professional league for over 50 years and football is one of the most celebrated sports in the country.

Saudi Arabia’s performance in the Qatar World Cup, beating eventual winners Argentina in its first group game, showcased the country’s footballing ability. Saudi has also been hosting the Spanish Super Cup for the last two years.

India too has a tryst with Saudi Arabian football, with the 2023 Santosh Trophy final being hosted at the Prince Mohammed Bin Fahd Stadium in Dammam.

ALSO READ: Saudi Arabia’s transfer deals this season: From Neymar to Bounou; Fees, records tracker

Saudi-led PIF’s takeover of Newcastle United has ensured its place in the annals of European football.

With reports suggesting that the country is set to be a contender for the hosting rights of the 2030 FIFA Men’s World Cup, its influence in sport will continue growing in the near future as it looks to break into the top league worldwide.

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