Few could have anticipated the impact that Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Saudi Arabia would have on football in the region, however the country is now looking to elevate its presence with an unprecedented move into the UEFA Champions League.
According to a report from CalcioFinanza, the Saudi football governance is talking to UEFA over potentially including the Saudi Pro League champions in the Champions League.
It comes off the back of a summer of significant spending for the league, with a plethora of some of world football’s top talents joining Saudi clubs.
This was culminated by the move of Neymar to Al Hilal, which was seen as a landmark move, with the Brazilian viewed as one of the most lucrative players in world football. The deal also meant that Al Hilal now has the highest wage bill in world football, surpassing English Premier League giants, Manchester United.
Furthermore, Champions League winning defender Aymeric Laporte is also set to move to Saudi Arabia and join Ronaldo at Al Nassr.
A summer of significant spending fuels the ambition of the country to become a global sporting power, highlighted by ambitions of hosting the Olympic Games and the World Cup in 2030.
Nonetheless, any decision to allow a team from the Middle East into a European competition would likely be met with backlash from European fans. It would also have a huge impact on the national team’s potential qualification for major tournaments, with them likely having to participate in European pools.
The last World Cup was largely deemed a success for the Saudi team, as they captured its only victory over champions Argentina at the tournament, a moment undoubtedly etched in Saudi sporting history.