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Lionel Messi unveiled as Saudi Arabia tourism ambassador

Human rights group previously urged Argentinian soccer star to reject partnership with the kingdom.

10 May 2022 Rory Jones

Getty Images

  • Messi to attend various events during Jeddah Season
  • PSG player also recently signed endorsement deal with Socios

Argentinian soccer great Lionel Messi has been officially unveiled as a brand ambassador for the Saudi Tourism Authority.

The news was confirmed after pictures emerged of the Paris Saint-German (PSG) star arriving in Saudi Arabia for Jeddah Season, an art and culture festival that comprises of 2,800 separate events. 

Messi later uploaded a sponsored Instagram post from a yacht in the Red Sea alongside the ‘#VisitSaudi’ hashtag.

Ahmed Al Khateeb, Saudi Arabia’s tourism minister, said on Twitter: ‘I am pleased to welcome Lionel Messi to Saudi Arabia.

‘We are excited for you to explore the treasure of the Red Sea, the Jeddah Season and our ancient history. This is not his first visit to the Kingdom and it will not be the last.’

When reports first surfaced of Messi potentially partnering with Saudi Arabia, human rights organisation Grant Liberty called for Messi not to get involved.

A letter written by families of prisoners of conscience shared by The Independent in February 2021 read: ‘You are an inspiration to millions and what you say and do really matters. To put it bluntly – you have enormous power, but with that power comes great responsibility.

‘If you say ‘yes’ to Visit Saudi you are in effect saying yes to all the human rights abuses that take place today in modern Saudi Arabia.’

It is the latest partnership for 34-year-old Messi, who recently signed a reported US$20 million endorsement deal with fan token platform Socios.

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