Messi vs Ronaldo: what a match between the two legends tells us about the future of sport

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Ronaldo and Messi symbolize the growing influence of the Gulf countries on world sport

The tantalizing prospect of a meeting between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo has naturally dominated the build-up for the match between French champions Paris Saint Germain and a Saudi All-Star XI on January 19 in Riyadh.

But this friendly is another example of the Gulf countries’ growing influence in sport, and goes far beyond the decision to stage this exhibition match in Saudi Arabia.

Since 2011, PSG has been owned by Qatari investors linked to the country’s royal family and the resulting cash injection has brought global superstars such as Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Neymar to the club.

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