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Soccer star Neymar is the latest athlete to sign with Saudi Arabia and help its ambitious plan to become a sports mecca



Brazilian soccer star Neymar is set to join Al-Hilal FC, Saudi state media reported, the latest multi-million-dollar addition to the kingdom’s rapidly expanding sporting ambitions.

Neymar signed a two-season contract that will include him participating in the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup in the US, state-run television channel AlEkhbariya reported on social media. It didn’t disclose financial terms. Officials at the soccer club couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Neymar joins superstars including Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, who have already signed to Saudi clubs. The Saudi Pro Football League secured deals across 130 territories this month to broadcast games, at rates as much as four times higher than last season’s total revenue from broadcast rights, a person familiar with the situation said last week. The government wants to quadruple the league’s annual revenue to $480 million by 2030.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which manages close to $800 billion of assets, has taken a greater role in the football league recently, acquiring majority stakes in four of the biggest clubs, including Al-Hilal. State oil company Aramco took over another club at the same time. 

The wealth fund, known as PIF, also led a consortium that bought Newcastle United for more than £300 million ($380 million) in 2021. The fund is considering buying another top football club in Europe, a person familiar said last month. Saudi Arabia is also exploring a joint bid to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.

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