Jamie Carragher Sounds the Alarm on Saudi Arabia’s Football Ambitions
Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has spoken out, raising concerns about the inflow of football stars into the Saudi Pro League. The esteemed pundit believes that Saudi Arabia’s increasing grip on sport – particularly football – should be met with caution.
Bernardo Silva’s Potential Move: The Tipping Point?
Carragher’s comments come amidst reports of Manchester City’s star, Bernardo Silva, being linked with a move to Saudi Arabia at the prime age of 28. Silva would be a monumental catch for the Saudi Pro League, which has so far mainly attracted stars in the twilight of their careers.
The former Liverpool defender tweeted: “Bernardo Silva is in his peak years & has been one of the best players in Europe for the last five years! I wasn’t worried about the Saudi League taking players in their 30’s, a touch worried with players below the elite (Neves) but if this happens it feels like a game changer.”
Bernardo Silva is in his peak years & has been one of the best players in Europe for the last five years!
I wasn’t worried about the Saudi League taking players in their 30’s, a touch worried with players below the elite (Neves) but if this happens it feels like a game changer… https://t.co/hcDUbkGp30
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) June 21, 2023
The Saudi Sporting Onslaught: Sportswashing in Play?
“Saudi have taken over Golf, the big Boxing fights & now they want to take over football!! This sports washing needs to be stopped!” Carragher added in his tweet. This remark points towards the term ‘sportswashing’, which has been used to describe the strategy of using sports to improve the image and reputation of a country, particularly when it has faced criticism for its human rights records or political issues.
Neville Echoes Carragher’s Concerns
Not alone in his concerns, Carragher’s fellow Sky Sports analyst, Gary Neville, has also been vocal about the transfer trend to the Saudi Pro League. Neville told BBC Sport: “The Premier League should put an instant embargo on transfers to Saudi Arabia to ensure the integrity of the game isn’t being damaged. Checks should be made on the appropriateness of the transactions.”
A Galaxy of Stars in Saudi Arabia’s Orbit
While Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante have already made their move, rumours are rife about several other stars being eyed by Saudi clubs. Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy, Hakim Ziyech, Tottenham’s Son Heung-min, and Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar are among those linked. Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha is also reportedly on the radar.
A Game-Changing Trend?
Jamie Carragher’s warning is a stark reminder that the landscape of football is changing. The Saudi Pro League’s recruitment of players in their prime could signify a shift in power and influence within the sport. With Saudi Arabia’s aggressive investments in various sporting domains, the term ‘sportswashing’ is set to be more prevalent in conversations surrounding global sport.