Reportedly, Cristiano Ronaldo has rejected a huge financial offer from Saudi Arabia to be the face of their latest tourism drive.
The Juventus icon, Ronaldo, who became football’s all-time leading goal scorer in official games with his 760th strike last week, was offered a commercial deal worth around £5.3 million per year according to Telegraph.
Ronaldo is reported to have rejected the offer whilst it’s claimed Lionel Messi has also been approached. Messi’s representative informed, “the Telegraph” they do not comment on commercial projects and did not confirm he had been approached for the role, while Ronaldo’s representatives also declined to comment.
The two superstars, considered by many to be football’s greatest ever player and with 11 Ballon d’Or awards between them, are amongst the most marketable individuals on the planet. They have a host of huge commercial deals with global brands and have been targeted by Saudi Arabia for a campaign due to start next month pushing the “Visit Saudi” campaign to establish themselves as a tourist destination.
It’s claimed the deal would include the player visiting Saudi and being used in all promotional material. However, the country has been involved in an ongoing international controversy over its human rights record, and endorsing their regime would leave those involved open to criticism.
Saudi Arabia has been accused of human rights violations and criticized for its role in the war in Yemen. Sports has been used by the country to try and showcase itself, with Jeddah hosting the Spanish Super Cup last January and Messi featuring in an expanded mini-tournament.
Messi played for Argentina against Brazil in Riyadh in 2019, whilst Anthony Joshua was criticized when he fought Andy Ruiz Jr in the same city in December 2019. Amnesty International recently criticized Formula One after agreeing to host a Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia. Last year, the efforts of the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund to take over 80% of Newcastle United was blocked by the Premier League.