How much money has Saudi Arabia spent on football players?

How much money has Saudi Arabia spent on football players?

Saudi Arabia’s role in football, particularly within the Saudi Pro League (SPL), is a compelling narrative of substantial financial investments. Amidst the country’s sports investments and the Sports Clubs Investment and Privatization Project, the SPL has seen a surge in spending on top-tier players, exemplified by Al-Hilal’s notable acquisitions. Deloitte analysis suggests a growing influence in the international league spending, sparking comparisons with European counterparts.

However, these sporting ventures have also faced scrutiny, with allegations of sportswashing and concerns over the nation’s human rights record. Recent developments, such as Joe Biden’s visit and the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund’s involvement in high-profile acquisitions like Newcastle United, indicate the country’s expanding presence in global sports, with interests ranging from e-sports to Formula One sponsorship.

Historical Context: Football Investments and Beyond

Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has embarked on an ambitious sports clubs investment and privatisation program, aiming to position itself as an influential force in the sports industry. This effort has led to several significant football team investments and an influx of financial resources into the SPL. Notably, Al-Hilal’s significant transfer of top players has drawn attention to the region, with spending comparisons with European leagues revealing the substantial financial backing behind the move.

Sports Investments in Saudi Arabia: Unveiling the Numbers

According to a recent Deloitte analysis, Saudi Arabia’s spending on football players has surged significantly. Particularly following the successful completion of the Sports Clubs Investment and Privatization Project. This surge has been marked by the acquisition of players at record-breaking prices, mirroring the high-profile transfers seen in the international leagues.

While some praise the country’s efforts to boost its sports infrastructure and attract global talent. Others raise concerns about the human rights record and the alleged use of sports investments for political gain, invoking the concept of “sportswashing.”

Saudi Arabia’s International Footprint: From Football to Golf

Beyond football, Saudi Arabia’s sports investment portfolio has extended to various other domains, including golf, boxing, motor sports, and e-sports. The hosting of international sporting events and the recent Formula One sponsorship have further solidified the nation’s presence in the global sports arena. Notably, the PGA tour rivalry and the impact on various golf tournaments have showcased the country’s commitment to fostering a diverse sports culture, albeit amidst ongoing controversies surrounding its human rights practices.

Sports Investments and Political Dimensions: Exploring the Controversies

The recent visit of Joe Biden to Saudi Arabia has reignited discussions about the investment strategies employed by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. It includes the purchase of Newcastle United and various sponsorships in football. These developments have brought to light the intertwining of sports investments and geopolitical interests. It raising questions about the underlying motivations behind the country’s continued foray into the international sports scene.

As allegations of sportswashing persist, stakeholders and international organisations have called for greater transparency and accountability in the nation’s sports-related endeavours.

The Way Forward: Transparency and Sustainable Sporting Growth

As Saudi Arabia continues to bolster its presence in the global sports landscape, the need for a comprehensive approach to sports investments, one that prioritises transparency and upholds ethical practices, becomes increasingly paramount. Emphasising the significance of fostering a sustainable sporting ecosystem. The country must address the concerns surrounding its human rights record and engage in constructive dialogue with international sports governing bodies.

By prioritising ethical investments and promoting a culture of inclusivity, Saudi Arabia can establish itself as a responsible player in the international sports arena. It contributes to the overall growth and development of the global sporting community.


In conclusion, Saudi Arabia’s substantial financial investments in football players and other sports have undoubtedly elevated its status as a key player in the international sports landscape. However, the controversies surrounding its sports investments, including allegations of sportswashing and concerns about its human rights record. Underline the need for a holistic approach that emphasises transparency and ethical practices.

As the country navigates the complexities of its sports investment portfolio, fostering sustainable growth. It maintains a positive global image that will be crucial in shaping its future trajectory as an influential force in the world of sports.



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