Cristiano Ronaldo and the praise of Saudi football

CR7’s Saudi championship propaganda is pathetic.

Cristiano Ronaldo has officially entered his descending parabola: there is no point in pretending nothing happened and ignoring the fact that the greatest Portuguese footballer of all time (for someone who is the greatest of all) is now in the twilight his career stands. His last year at a high level, split between last season with Manchester United and the World Cup in Qatar, was more than failure. Probably aware in himself that he can no longer offer football that counts, he “escaped” to the Saudi championship Marrying Al Nassr, breaking another record for highest-paid footballer of all time ($200 million for a two-year contract).

Recently, in a press conference by the Portuguese national team, CR7 has released hymns of praise to the Arab Championship so absurd that one almost thinks (and hopes) that there are contractual conditions that his club imposes on him: to apply Saudi Professional League, to convince us that this is a high-level competition (sic!). And our interpretation is not that far off when you consider that Al-Nassr would have forced him to take part in the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Jeddah.

“They play in a very competitive league and Saudi football should be looked at differently. It’s not like the Premier League, of course, but it’s still competitive. Within five or six years it will be the fourth or fifth strongest league in the world.”

Cristiano Ronaldo, 03/22/2023

Honestly, to see a CR7 reduced to playing the hustler of a more than mediocre football league (too well) like any Bernardeschi (remember his statements in which he claimed that in the future the US MLS will replace the European leagues would surpass?) power much sadness. Analyzing these words of his in detail, it is really difficult to understand their logical meaning. We should probably go further and read them in a different sense: perhaps it is the desperate cry of a brilliant manwho pretends to return home insane (like the Count of Monte Cristo), or maybe just the childish and stupid side of an athlete who bases his legend on the will to power.

There is no doubt that Saudi Arabia will invest millions in football (it has already been doing so for a decade), but more abroad than domestically, where it could (for example in Newcastle) take advantage of the visibility of the big clubs of the European Continental football as a soft power tool – belongs to the order of Bin Salman’s Saudi vision. Although Saudi Arabia is a so-called ‘First World’ economic powerhouse, it remains a ‘Third World’ country (in terms of homegrown talent) – despite the good group played at the World Cup.

So here is that CR7’s words, which are anything but casual at this moment in his career, bring back to us the childish and Pascolo-esque image of an athlete who has reached the end of the line without realizing it. With many national and international media, always ready to improve the braces (in Luxemburg) to glorify his name while forgetting his old greatness. CR7 was an incredible, unique player, a living icon. But with his move to Al-Nassr, he sealed his own death in football: beyond any glamorous declaration.

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