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Report: Real Madrid and Saudi Arabia hold ‘€150m’ sponsorship talks

Proposed deal would see Spanish champions promote country’s Qiddiya project.

22 February 2021 Sam Carp

Getty Images

  • Partnership would include Qiddiya becoming lead sponsor of Real’s women’s team
  • Club reportedly signed MoU with Saudi Arabia in March last year
  • The Times report comes with club’s Emirates deal set to expire at end of 2021/22 season

Spanish soccer giants Real Madrid have held ‘advanced talks’ with Saudi Arabia over a potentially lucrative sponsorship deal, according to The Times.

Two separate documents seen by the UK-based newspaper show that the reigning La Liga champions have been offered €150 million (US$182 million) to promote the state-owned Qiddiya project for ten years.

Qiddiya is a multi-billion dollar tourism megaproject that forms part of the Saudi Vision 2030 framework. Based just outside Riyadh, the resort has a stated aim of becoming ‘the capital of entertainment, sports and the arts’ in Saudi Arabia.

Under the deal, Real would reportedly dedicate ‘a minimum of four players’ from the men’s first team to endorse Qiddiya, which would also be promoted on the team’s website and social media channels. 

The agreement would see Qiddiya become the lead sponsor of Real’s women’s team, according to The Times, which added that the club’s female players would travel to Saudi Arabia to ‘inspire young girls to participate in sports’. 

The second document is reportedly a memorandum of understanding (MoU) drafted by Real to evaluate the possibility of ‘developing a Real Madrid Entertainment Centre’ in Qiddiya, including a museum and merchandise store. 

Talks between the two parties reportedly go back as far as March last year, when The Times reports that the pair signed a separate MoU to formalise discussions ‘to establish a strategic partnership’. 

The report comes with Real’s main shirt sponsorship deal with the Emirates airline – which is the flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates – set to expire at the end of the 2021/22 season. 

If confirmed, the deal would likely be seen as Saudi Arabia’s latest attempt to use sport to enhance its international reputation, which has been significantly damaged by the country’s poor human rights record. 

Until now, Saudi Arabia’s main focus in sport has been in hosting major events, including Formula E races, championship boxing bouts and one-off soccer games, such as the Supercoppa Italiana. 

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