Uli Hoeness, historic figure of German champion Bayern Munich, warned on Thursday of the risk of global “domination” of football by Saudi Arabia, calling for a reaction by training young talents. “The Saudis really seem totally determined to perhaps dominate world football,” the Bavarian club's honorary president said in an interview with television channel RTL-Germany.
“They are trying to buy world stars and also to build a real structure for football” in the kingdom, and this is what differentiates the Saudi project from that, in its time, of China, added the former German international aged 71. “In addition, another element is of course added that there has never been in China: there is clearly unlimited money there, which we have to finance by paying our oil bills” , judged Uli Hoeness.
To face the offensive, the world of football in Europe, in Germany in particular, must return to its roots, and trust young players. The Saudis “can ultimately only play with eleven players like us and there is enough talent in the world,” he said, “we must, thanks to very good work among the younger generations, develop our own players.
Since the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo for Al-Nassr in January, Saudi league clubs, backed by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), have embarked on a player-buying spree. The signing of the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, for a contract worth an estimated total of 400 million euros, paved the way for the arrival of other stars at the end of their careers in the Saudi Pro League such as Karim Benzema and Neymar .
In October 2021, well before the start of the wave of transfers to the Saudi championship, a consortium financed by the oil monarchy completed the takeover of Newcastle United, an English Premier League club. Saudi Arabia will host the Club World Cup at the end of December, as well as the 2027 Asian Cup, a dress rehearsal for the 2034 World Cup.