The presentation of Karim Benzema with Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ittihad it was conceived as a great act of propaganda. For the club, but above all for the country that wants to break socio-politics with a checkbook. The King Abdullah Sports City hosted an event attended by nearly 60,000 spectators, among them, a significant number of women. High if one takes into account that lThe first time they attended a football match was in 2018. Some of those who made the presentation did not wear a veil or abaya, the typical tunic of the country.
“Football is important for everyone, for women, for men. We see it even in Europe, which has women’s teams, including the Champions League. It is important to be supportive and, therefore, whether it is men or of women, we are here to support. In the case of women, I am happy to be part of this family“, defended Benzema in his first words as an Al-Ittihad player, published on the club’s website.
Six minutes of appearance
French is much more than a great incorporation, it is the spokesperson for a cause. “I am Muslim and it is a Muslim country. I have always wanted to live there. I have already been to Saudi Arabia and I feel good there. The most important thing is that it is a Muslim country, dear and beautiful. When I spoke to my family about the transfer, they were very happy. Here I am, right where I want to be”, assured Benzema in his first words as a footballer of the current champion of the Saudi League.
Facing the media, his was a brief appearance. Just six minutes and no questions. “I have won many things in Europe. I have signed here with a lot of ambition and wanting to contribute my experience, hoping to win many titles and wanting to play to raise the club, despite already being very high,” said the striker. The global vocation of the event made Karim’s companions spoke in English and Arabic, while he spoke in French.
The Arab League, still a project in the making
But the important statements had already been transcribed in a previous communication where Benzema spoke in the same vein as his former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, the precursor ‘star’ in Saudi Arabia, who stated that the Saudi League will be “fourth best” in the world. “I’ve heard a lot of things, it’s a good championship and there are very good players. Every year they raise the level. I saw the World Cup and Saudi Arabia played very well, making great games, especially against Argentina. Obviously, they have very good players,” he defended. the Frenchman in an exercise of self-convincing.
Because according to a study carried out by Twenty First Group, the main competition of the Arab country is not, in terms of quality and evaluation of the teams, still at the level of, for example, the Scottish Premiership. However, the arrival of foreign players has allowed the teams to raise their level one grade. Of the last four Asian Champions, two have gone to Al-Hilalagainst whom Real Madrid won the Club World Cup final after the Arab team eliminated Flamengo, champion of the Libertadores.
Saudi Arabia goes one step further
The arrival of Benzema means going a step further, through the cultural identification of a large part of a hobby that is still very local. The degree of his iconicity was made very clear in the stands of King Abdullah Sports City, where some fans had their hands bandaged, like the French battering ram, and made the gesture of asking for silence, another classic of Benzema’s set design.
The new Al-Ittihad player insisted on this link between the parties, “a team that has my same values”. With the night covering the entire Jeddah stadium, the fans tried to correspond to the words that Benzema addressed them: “It is a club with a lot of passion. I would like to leave a lasting legacy, because I love football. I always have that competitiveness to push my limits and reach even higher“.
The former Real Madrid striker represents a paradigm shift that Saudi Arabia wants to reaffirm with more moves. Unlike what has happened in other leagues in the area, like Qatar or United Arab Emirates, Benzema’s destination country wants to be an alternative for players who still have good years of football to give. Hence, he tempted Messi and they are doing the same with other European soccer stars.