Saudi football ‘sportswashing’ and using multi-million-pound deals to distract from human rights issues

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07/29/2023

Players from across the game have taken eye-watering amounts of money to join the Saudi Pro League, moves which have been criticised as supporting “sportswashing”. In December, Cristiano Ronaldo joined Riyadh-based club Al-Nassr on a free transfer after leaving Manchester United, reportedly bagging the biggest salary in football history, at more than £173 million (close to $222 million) a year, including image rights. That was followed by Ballon d’Or winner and free agent Karim Benzema signing a two-year contract, with the option of a further year, at Al-Ittihad. He is expected to earn much the same as his former Real Madrid teammate.

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