A year ago, Saudi Arabia would hardly have come to mind when listing the countries most likely to snap up first-team players in football leagues.

But now, the country is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on soccer stars to make its place in the game known – and at so much cost that most European teams can’t compete.

Between June and September this year, Saudi teams spent $875.4 million poaching foreign players, according to FIFA’s International Transfer Snapshot published on friday. That figure is second only to English clubs, who spent a combined $1.98 billion during that window.

Meanwhile, French clubs spent $859.7 million, while Italian teams spent $711 million.

Football’s governing body found that countries spent a record $7.36 billion on transfer fees in the past three months, up 47.2 percent from last year. It attributed the increase in part to a “substantial” contribution from Saudi Arabia.

“Among the associations with the highest transfer fees, Saudi Arabia has experienced
This is by far the biggest increase compared to the previous mid-year transfer window,” FIFA said. Report explain.

Saudi Arabia has been actively promoting its influence in the world’s most important country Widespread concern sports.

The Middle Eastern nation does not shy away from large-scale investments—whether in elite league or a new stadium. Last year, it also attracted some of the world’s most prominent footballers, including Portuguese soccer icon Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as Brazil’s Neymar and Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema.

What happened to the crazy consumption?

Saudi Arabia has stepped up investment in all areas of football, including privatizing clubs that play in the Saudi professional league.

Earlier this year, the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) — the country’s sovereign wealth fund overseen by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman —take over control Member of four local clubs. Prior to this, all teams were under the jurisdiction of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Sports and supported by the government.

PIF has investments in football elsewhere too – it buys majority stake Join Premier League club Newcastle United in 2021 for close to $400 million.

Saudi Arabia’s foray into football comes as the country seeks to diversify its economy away from fossil fuels.sporting events provided profitable opportunity Attract foreign capital and promote domestic industry development while generating cash flow.

The country’s deep pockets have helped it make big bids for players with star power.

Saudi Arabia has reportedly extended an invitation to Lionel Messi $545 million One year with Kylian Mbappe $776 million A season at one of the clubs – an offer that both players declined.but when ronaldo was invited $200 million A year after joining Saudi club Al-Nassr, he was on a salary.

The Kingdom has also invested in other sports, including Formula 1 motorsport, boxing and golf.

Even with football, however, the country has a long way to go before it can become a star-studded centre. For example, the FIFA report states that Saudi Arabia’s transfer receipts were only $15.7 million, a fraction of what other countries are doing to transfer valuable players through their clubs.

German clubs, for example, took in $1.1 billion from outgoing player transfers in three months, more than 15% of the global total.

England earned $956.2 million from outgoing player transfers, while France earned $887.8 million.

The sudden deluge of Saudi interest and funding has drawn criticism from some that Riyadh is engaging in a “sports shuffle,” or using sports to distract from the kingdom. human rights record.

Saudi Arabian government representatives did not return immediately wealthrequest for comment.

However, the allegations do not appear to have dampened Saudi Arabia’s sporting ambitions.

Earlier this month, renowned cricketer and England Test captain Ben Stokes spoke of the Kingdom’s ability to spend on sport so much that there is no room for any other power to compete.

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