Uli Hoeness warns of Saudi Arabia taking over world football. “The Saudis are really determined to dominate world football,” Bavaria’s honorary president said in an interview with RTL/NTV. It is therefore clear to Hoehnsch that, as a countermeasure, he should turn his attention back to his youth work.
The fact is: Saudi Arabia has completely turned world football on its head over the past few months. Many stars have moved to the Saudi Arabian league for incredibly high transfer fees. Recently, FIFA President Gianni Infantino awarded the 2034 World Cup to the state.
In January 2023, the football world still believed it was a marketing campaign. But Saudi Arabia became serious and now wants to attack European football. This was recently underlined by the transfer summer of 2023. Suddenly it wasn’t just the old stars that went into the desert. Even young, still developing players followed the demand for money.
Clubs in the Saudi Arabian Pro League invested a total of less than one billion euros in new players. Additionally, the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) acquired four clubs in the domestic league. In addition, English club Newcastle United has been purchased since the end of 2021. Most of the 2023 transfer money went to England. But FC Bayern also benefited from the transfer madness in Saudi Arabia. Transfer flop Sadio Mane sold for 30 million euros.
It is clear to Hoeness that he has a new rival in Saudi Arabia. “I think we always thought that the rivals were in England, in Spain and a little bit in France and Italy,” the Bayern icon said in an interview with Monica Lierhaus. “But now there are completely new things coming to world football. Now a country like Saudi Arabia has suddenly emerged with huge reserves of wealth,” Hoeness said.
Hoeness also described the Saudis’ strategy: “They are trying to buy world-class players and also create a proper structure for football.” It will also separate the desert state from China. In the mid-2010s, he also tried to build his own football empire. But after some time they disappeared into the darkness of anonymity. “It seems like the Saudis are really determined to dominate world football. Apparently there is money in abundance. And we have to pay for it through our oil bills,” says Hoeneß.
In his opinion, football needs to rely on the “old values” again. The Honorary President of Munich specifically addresses youth actions. We have to try to develop a lot of players ourselves through very good youth work. Therefore, we have to counter this with our quality of life and connection with our motherland.