The Newcastle United deal was the first Saudi regime attempt to sportswash its abysmal human rights record.
Despite the sharp criticism triggered against the Saudis’ growing violations, some sports officials failed to resist the Saudi temptations. Deals worth billions of dollars were signed in this regard after Saudi Arabia started attracting top football stars to play in the Saudi League for hundreds of millions of dollars.
After last year’s World Cup, Cristiano Ronaldo became the biggest name to take the Saudi coin, pledging his twilight years to Al Nassr, who were recently pipped to the title. And now Karim Benzema and Kanté have agreed to contract with Al Ittihad. Messi’s deal is also a matter of time.
Benzema has reportedly received a lucrative offer from Al-Ittihad. The 35-year-old Ballon d’Or winner would sign a three-year contract, and his salary would be $107 million tax-free per season, in addition to a private home and other financial and logistical privileges.
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, along with Messi and Ronaldo, who were paid billions of dollars from the Saudi Investment Fund for promoting the kingdom.
The Saudi Football Association does not adhere to any statutes, regulations, or principles of fair play. However, the Saudi monetary power was able to impose itself on the international sports scene with complete disregard for the values and precepts of human rights.