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The Little Hawk

The student news site of Iowa City High School

The Little Hawk

The student news site of Iowa City High School

The Little Hawk

Staff Profile

The Saudi Pro League Has a Detrimental Influence on Soccer

The+Saudi+Pro+League+Has+a+Detrimental+Influence+on+Soccer

Recently in soccer there has been a big change: Saudi Arabia is buying up players everywhere to join the Saudi Pro League. At first this started when Al Nassr bought Cristiano Ronaldo for 220 million dollars per year, for two years. People thought initially that they would only end up buying old players, and called it a “retirement league,” although now they have bought over 30 players, with many coming in their prime years.

This is worrying for many people, as they are taking big players away from leagues like the Premier League. It’s honestly disgusting that they can throw around money like this and get whomever they want for the most part. Some of the big players they have bought so far have been Ronaldo, Neymar, Karim Benzema, etc. Something like this on this scale hasn’t been seen in soccer yet, as big players have left for leagues like the MLS, but only when they became old.

Now, young players are coming in. For example 19-year-old talent Gabri Veiga from Celta Vigo came to Al-ahli, and this is just the start. They are coming to earn life-changing money. The question now is: will it continue on this scale, and what effects will it have on European soccer? There is, even now, talks about Saudi teams potentially joining the UEFA Champions League, even though that is meant for only European teams to play in. There has been some public criticism of this by players themselves, with Real Madrid star Toni Kroos replying “embarrassing” to an Instagram post of an 18-year-old player going to the Saudi League. 

Managers have also expressed their discomfort with the Saudi transfer window being a week longer than most of the other ones, as this is allowing them to still take players away from top teams later. Some of the examples of young players/players in their mid-20s going to the Saudi league have been Ruben Neves, 26, and Sergey Milinkovic-Savic, 28. The main question is whether this Saudi League is actually going to compete with European leagues in the future, which would be ridiculous. Thankfully, I don’t think this will ever fully happen. 

This is because the Saudi League won’t ever have the same type of youth academies that bring up new players, and they would need to buy every single team full of star players to actually have a competitive league, which I don’t see happening any time soon. There is also still not much ambition for the players to do well, as they are pretty much only there for the money, which is another element that European soccer has over the Saudi Pro League. The Saudi League is willing to offer wages to average or old players that would normally be given to only the best players in European leagues or even more than the best players would earn. For example, Sadio Mane, a player who was not earning ridiculously high wages at Bayern Munich in Europe because he was getting old, left to join Al Nassr and earn a wage of $830,000 per week. The advantage European leagues have in this regard is that players will perform better and would have more passion, as they aren’t just there for the money.

People are also overrating this league. A lot of people are comparing stats in the Saudi League to stats in the Premier League, like Haaland vs Ronaldo’s stats. People need to be realistic and know that it’s not that competitive of a league. It is also sad, though, to see an era come to an end with many generational players leaving Europe like Ronaldo, Messi, and Neymar.

In conclusion, it is scary that Saudi Arabia could be buying up players in their prime in masses in the future, and this shouldn’t happen.

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About the Contributor
Floris Roorda, Reporter
My name is Floris Roorda, I'm a sophomore,  some of my favorite topics to write about are sports like soccer but also more serious topics like mental health as I feel these topics should be written about more as well.
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