Real Madrid soccer star Karim Benzema is reportedly leaving Real Madrid at the end of the month, with his next destination being the Saudi Arabian pro league.
Benzema won’t be the first high profile footballer to play professionally in Saudi Arabia. Striker Cristiano Ronaldo plays for Al Nassr, while there are rumors that Lionel Messi could play in Saudi Arabia. Experts described the deals as part of Saudi sportwashing policies.
Sources predicted that Benzema is set to join Saudi team Al Ittihad after his contract with Real Madrid expires.
The 35-year-old would, in principle, sign a two-year contract, and his salary would be in excess of $100 million tax-free per season. Benzema also decided to give 100% of his image rights to his company, ‘Best of Benzema’.
Benzema was also offered a deal to be one of the ambassadors of the kingdom to bolster its bid for hosting the 2030 World Cup. This came as part of Saudi Arabia’s attempts to boost its image in light of its poor human rights record.
Rejecting such proposals calls for a strong will that is completely convinced of the significance of the fight for human rights. However, it appears that Benzema is willing to act as an ambassador for the brutal Saudi regime in exchange for a sizable sum of money from the Mohammed bin Salman (MBS)-led sovereign wealth fund.
One of the analysts referred to the action as “sports washing pox,” alluding to how quickly sportwashing policies spread among MENA regimes in an effort to erase their bloody reputations.
At the top of these regimes are Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Despite the fact that both nations are complicit in a brutal crime in Yemen, their enormous wealth is used to cover up those crimes.
In view of their shared economic interests and investments, the international community still stands idly before these criminal regimes.