Saudi Arabia aims to become a great ground for sports and influence

By multiplying sporting events on its territory in recent years, Saudi Arabia is determined to become a source of influence through sport.

The country which hosts the Dakar until 2025 and which organizes the 3rd edition of the Saudi Tour, a five-stage professional cycling race (from 30 January to 3 February 2023), has recently invested colossal sums to host tennis and golf events or a Gran Formula 1 award and even intends to apply for the organization of the football World Cup in 2030.

Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr has also just signed Ronaldo, five times Ballon d’Or winner until 2025, with an estimated salary of 200 million euros for the entire duration of his contract.

Football, a new showcase for Saudi Arabia’s “soft power”.

The signing of Cristiano Ronaldo to Al-Nassr, at the end of 2022, is a masterstroke for the kingdom that wants to shine internationally through sport. “I have no doubt that his arrival will improve our league and benefit the ecosystem of Saudi football in the long term,” congratulated World Yasser Al Misehal, president of the Saudi Football Federation (SAFF).

The last friendly organized on 19 January 2023 against Lionel Messi’s PSG sheds light on this operation.

An unprecedented publicity stunt for the kingdom even as Paris-Saint-Germain (PSG), led by Lionel Messi, beat (5-4) players from two clubs in the capital, Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr at King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh. This exhibition match probably brought together football’s two most famous striker-scorers for the last time: Argentina’s seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and recently crowned world champion in Qatar and Portugal’s five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo times of the trophy rewarding the best footballer of the year.

By securing the services of one of the best players of his generation, Saudi Arabia aims to place themselves on the world soccer map. His arrival is part of the will of the kingdom’s authorities to put the spotlight on their championship, perhaps in view of presenting a joint candidacy with Greece and Egypt to organize the 2030 World Cup, since the Qatari neighbor has just hosted the Cup of the World 2022.

Cycling, the other sport the kingdom loves


The Saudi Tour returns in 2023 for the second consecutive year.

The Saudi Tour returns in 2023 for the second consecutive year.

Apart from football, the country also relies on cycling to shine internationally. Launched in 2020, under the auspices of the Saudi Arabian Cycling Federation, the Saudi Tour returns in 2023 for the second consecutive year. On the program, five stages between January 30 and February 3, in which sixteen teams will compete.

The route is aimed at both sprinters and puncher-climbers, such as the finish of stage three at the summit at Abu Rakah or the end of stage four which consists of a 2.5km climb at 12%, with transitions at 22% at 7 km from the finish line.

In 2022, the overall victory went to Belgian Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Dstny) on the strength of his stage success at Skyviews. The Colombian Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain – Victorious) and the Portuguese Rui Costa now rider of the Intermarché – Circus – Wanty team reached the podium in 2nd and 3rd place. Alexandre Geniez, who is no longer a cyclist after having problems with the law, finished 8th and first Frenchman.

The Dakar Rally remains in Saudi Arabia until at least 2025

The Dakar Rally remains in Saudi Arabia until 2025.

The Dakar Rally remains in Saudi Arabia until 2025.

Good news for the kingdom. The Dakar will remain in Saudi Arabia and will not activate the departure clause expected after the first five years of the ten-year contract that saw the famous rally-raid establish itself in the kingdom in 2020, David Castera, race director recently indicated. . “I am very happy that we are staying, we still have many deserts to explore and there is huge potential in the country,” said the organizer at the end of Sunday in Dammam, on the Gulf, the 45th edition of the rally-raid.

The Amaury Sport Organization ASO group, organizer of the rally-raid, is also evaluating the possibility of opening the route to neighboring countries. After the Sahel and the first edition in 1978, then South America since 2009, the Dakar, the largest rally-raid in the world, in 2020 made Saudi Arabia its setting. A choice that has sparked controversy for the ultra-conservative kingdom’s human rights shortcomings.

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