Saudi Arabia He is stomping economically and has an ambitious plan to finish transforming himself into a reference for the sport. And of course, within his idea is to consolidate a soccer league to compete with the best in the world.
With the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo at the beginning of 2023 plus that of Karim Benzema halfway through the course, and the desire to have Lionel Messi, the Saudis go for everything. But how is the League of Saudi Arabia? How many clubs play? In The Sporting News we review some details of the Saudi Pro League.
History of the Saudi Arabian League
As in many places in the world, soccer in Saudi Arabia began with regional tournaments and without a championship that brings together teams from all over the country, with the exception of the King’s Cup. We had to wait until the mid-70s for the dispute of the first National League that had its inaugural season in the 1975-1976 campaign.
The first great leap was made in 1990, when Saudi soccer became professionalized and this achievement was reflected in the qualification of the Saudi Arabian National Team to the 1994 World Cup in the United States, which marked the absolute debut of “Los Hijos del Desierto” at a World Cup.
— FIFA World Cup 🏆 (@fifaworldcup_es) April 27, 2018
As it is known today, the Saudi Pro League was created in 2008 under the orbit of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation. According to League websiteit operates with total administrative and financial independence and owns all the commercial rights of the league competitions.
How many teams play in the Saudi Arabian League? tournament format
In the 2023-2024 season, the Saudi Arabian League will expand the number of clubs to 18. The format will remain unchanged, in a round-robin tournament with round-trip matches, meaning that each team will play a total of 34 dates. The season will start in August 2023 and end in May 2024.
Logically, the team that scores the most points will be crowned the champion, while the 3 best placed will qualify for the Asian Champions League, leaving the ticket to the previous phase of the Champions League for the one that finishes in fourth position. At the bottom the last 3 will go down to the second division.
Clubs of the Saudi Arabian League in the 2023-2024 season
- Al-Ahli (promoted)
- Al-Hazem (promoted)
- Al-Okhdood (promoted)
- Al-Riyadh (promoted)
When Al-Nassr announced the recruitment of Cristiano Ronaldo He caused a global impact, being just the first of many top players to tempt. Now for the European summer market of 2023, with the arrival of Karim Benzema al Al-Ittihad, Saudi Arabia has two global mega stars.
Some of the other figures who compete every week in the Saudi Pro League are Talisca, Gonzalo Martínez, David Ospina, Luciano Vietto and Éver Banega.
The champion teams of the Saudi Arabian League
In the 2022-2023 season, Al-Ittihad was crowned champion, recovered the trophy that it had not lifted since 2008-2009 and reached its ninth conquest in Saudi Arabia to equal Al-Nassr in the position of the second most winning in the country. Al-Hilal is still quite far away, proudly counting on 18 league titles and winning 5 of the last 7 tournaments.
🏆 CHAMPIONS 🏆
All Saudi Arabian League Champions
The goal of the 2030 World Cup in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia aims to grow its League into one of the world’s leading leagues, but it also has an obsession, the World Cup 2030.
With the recent Qatar 2022 World Cup and the confederation rotation system, it is very unlikely that the Saudis will be able to host the big tournament, although they have one more resource and that is to organize it together with Greece and Egypt. In their favor, of course, they have a very powerful wallet, although the little infrastructure of the Hellenes and the pride of the Africans, who aspire to organize a World Cup alone, can act as a counterweight.
Only time will tell if the candidacy ends up materializing to compete with the other existing ones, those of Spain and Portugal and the South American one, made up of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile.
Privatizations in the Saudi Arabian League
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, head of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Sports, announced the latest revolutionary move regarding Saudi football on Monday, June 5, 2023. The transfer of ownership of the teams Al-Ittihad, Al-Ahly, Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal to the Public Investment Fund (PIF for its acronym in English), which in this way will become the owner of 75% of each club, while the rest will remain in the hands of non-profit organizations.
As part of today’s announcement of the Sports Clubs Investment and Privatization Project, four Saudi clubs – Al Ittihad, Al Ahli, Al Nassr, and Al Hilal – have been transformed into companies, each of which is owned by #PIF and non-profit foundations for each club. pic.twitter.com/TNZcbIniUE
— Public Investment Fund (@PIF_en) June 5, 2023
The PIF is the state’s investment and savings fund and is backed by oil, although the authorities have already been diversifying their income in the face of future scarcity of the non-renewable resource.
With this step, the government of Saudi Arabia seeks to increase the income of the League from 450 million riyals to more than 1,800 million riyals per year (450 million euros).
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