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Saudi Arabia Eyes Bold Move To UEFA Champions League

  • The Saudi Pro League is exploring potential inclusion in the UEFA Champions League.
  • UEFA comprises mainly European countries but includes some transcontinental and Asian nations.
Cristiano-Ronaldo
Al Nassr SC

Saudi Arabia is planning on crashing Europe’s top soccer competition in its latest effort to increase its sports presence and relevance.

The Saudi Pro League is exploring ways to gain a spot in the UEFA Champions League, according to one of the SPL’s top executives. The SPL currently competes in the Asian Football Confederation Champions League, where it has four entrants this year.

While unconventional, the European move wouldn’t be unprecedented. UEFA’s membership includes transcontinental countries Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Kazakhstan, as well as Israel, Cyprus, and Armenia.

Having its clubs compete in the UCL — widely regarded as the world’s top club tournament — would give further credibility to the SPL, which has already lured stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar with a spending frenzy that has reached into the billions. 

More top European players could be interested in joining Saudi clubs if they knew there would still be a chance to compete in the UCL. It could also raise the domestic league’s competition level, whose best teams would be playing for a highly coveted berth.

Already, the SPL is expanding its reach internationally — the league has new deals to air this season’s matches on Fox Sports in the U.S. and DAZN in the U.K. However, despite the recent additions, the SPL is still broadly ranked outside of the top 50 soccer leagues in the world.

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