More and more football stars are leaving their clubs in Europe and moving to Saudi Arabia. Big money is there. The sporting competition is modest. But now the league bosses are hoping for a place in the Champions League.
The football summer is blossoming wildly, mainly because of the up-and-coming league in Saudi Arabia. A number of stars have already moved to the desert, celebrating their new clubs upon arrival, which they probably would not even have recognized by the coat of arms days before the lucrative million-dollar offers.
The gigantic investments in names like Cristiano Ronaldo (38), Neymar (31) and Karim Benzema (35) make it clear: Saudi Arabia is pursuing a plan. At the top is without a doubt the image gain before applying for the 2030 World Cup. But the money should also open unimagined doors in club football.
Will Saudi Arabia place their champions in the Champions League?
As the Italian sports daily “Corriere dello Sport” now reports, those responsible for the Saudi Professional League are hoping to get closer to the top European clubs, and not just in terms of the well-known members of the club squad.
The crazy plan: Saudi Arabia wants to be in the Champions League! As the Sport-Blatt goes on to explain, the plan is to give the national champion a wild card place for the European premier class. In the coming months, a corresponding proposal could therefore be addressed to Uefa.
Behind the Saudi league and the football association SAFF is the royal family of the country around Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (37). The massively increased budgets of the 18 top division clubs do not come from sponsorship contracts or other income, but are directly linked to the state budget of the country, which wants to put the spotlight on sport worldwide.
Champions League: The participation of clubs from other associations is not excluded
Because the Asian Champions League has prestige on the continent, but cannot keep up internationally with the successful European format, this stage would be the next big step in staging yourself as an up-and-coming sports nation.
The many summer transfers with transfer and salary expenses in the billions made it clear that the necessary money for the implementation should not fail. It is questionable, however, whether Uefa would get involved in a deal, albeit a financially lucrative one.
In any case, the participation of clubs in other continental associations is not excluded. For years, teams from Mexico, which actually compete in the Concacaf Champions League, also played in the South American Copa Libertadores.
In any case, one thing is certain: from the 2024/2025 season, the Champions League will be carried out in a different format. 36 instead of 32 teams are then in the preliminary round, which is no longer played in groups, but with a large table and ten matches per club. Unlike before, not all places for the main round should be awarded after the previous year’s performance of the teams in the national leagues.