Prince Abdulaziz also expressed his hope that Ronaldo will sign for a club in the Saudi Professional League after leaving United this week in the wake of his sensational interview with Piers Morgan. Ronaldo rejected an offer of £233m for a two-year contract from Al-Hilal in the summer, but the Saudi club are believed to be lining up a new move for the now 37-year-old as a free agent.
Prince Abdulaziz said, “Everything is possible. I would love to see Ronaldo play in the Saudi League. It will benefit the league and the sports ecosystem in Saudi Arabia and will inspire young people for the future.” He is a role model for many children and has a large fan base in Saudi Arabia.
“Who wouldn’t want him to play in the league? He’s a role model for a lot of young players – him and Messi. I don’t have any details about any of the reports that came out. But you know, what I can say is we have Messi as ambassador for tourism in the kingdom with the Ministry of Tourism – It benefited a lot.
“In terms of tourism to the Kingdom, if they can, I would like to see them play in the Saudi League, and as you know, if the top players in the Saudi League participate and play that will enhance the programs that we’re doing. “
Ronaldo became the first player in history to score in five World Cup finals on Thursday as Portugal beat Ghana 3-2. Qatar’s hosting of the tournament was mired in scandal and controversy, but Prince Abdulaziz expressed hope that the World Cup would one day return to the Middle East region, and admitted that he would be keen to see it take place in Saudi Arabia.
‘I think Saudi Arabia will always be criticized’
The state is bidding to host the women’s and men’s Asian Cups in 2026 and 2027 respectively, and if the bids are successful, he believes it will “definitely” increase Saudi Arabia’s bid for the World Cup.
“Why not? Who wouldn’t want to host a World Cup?” He said. “We host a lot of events in the region. Any country in the world would love to host a World Cup. It’s a great tournament and it’s good for every country to host such an event.
“We need to upgrade some of our sites. We have a lot of stadiums that meet the requirements that we need, but hosting an event like this is not just about the stadiums, it’s about the infrastructure, the people, about preparing everyone for such an event and making sure that when you’re ready to host this competition The entire nation is behind it.”
Saudi Arabia has been accused of sportswashing — trying to use sport to promote a positive image of a country with an appalling human rights record — by investing in and hosting major sporting events, including the separatist LIV Golf series, Formula 1 races and world boxing matches. Prince Abdulaziz said that Saudi Arabia “will always be subject to criticism.”
“We were criticized in Saudi Arabia before hosting such events, and that we do not host these events, and now that we are now, we are being criticized for hosting them,” he said.
“We look at the facts — the numbers don’t lie — when you look at participation in boxing, from six gyms in 2018 to 57 gyms today. Participation increased by 300 percent, 60 percent of women, which was quite a shock when you see The appetites of young people, men and women, learn from it.So, at the end of the day, if it makes the country better and fixes a lot of the social issues that we have in terms of participation, those are good for us and that’s what we’re looking at.
“I think we will always be criticized, but we have to look at what is best for our country and our people, and what really develops our youth towards the future.”