Midfielder Jordan Henderson, well-known as the captain of Liverpool, a prestigious European soccer team, attempted to ‘escape’ from the Saudi Arabian Pro League.
While local reports continue that Henderson’s decision to join Dutch Ajax is imminent, there is also analysis that his transfer shows the ‘innate limitations’ of the Saudi league. 먹튀검증사이트
As dissatisfaction with the environment, which differs from the West in freedom of thought, expression, and action, grows, many people point out that the country’s appeal as a destination for stars has already declined.
According to local reports, Henderson, who joined RET Park at the end of July last year, sought to return to Europe even at the cost of huge financial losses. According to the British daily Telegraph,
due to tax issues, Henderson has postponed receiving his weekly salary for the period he played in Saudi Arabia.
Since he made the transfer without receiving a single penny, his close associates are skeptical about whether he will be able to properly receive his weekly salary from the Saudi team.
It is reported that Henderson signed a contract with RET Park for a weekly salary of 350,000 pounds (about 600 million won).
It appears that the social and cultural environment surrounding the Saudi League played a role in Henderson’s sudden escape.
Henderson, who played a cornerstone role in the ‘reconstruction of a famous family’ by spending 12 seasons after joining Liverpool in 2011,
is well known for paying a lot of attention to the human rights of sexual minorities,
such as wearing ‘rainbow soccer cleats’ on a regular basis.
He has been pointed out that his move toward Saudi Arabia, which is criticized for oppressing sexual minorities, is contradictory to his existing attitude.
Accordingly, Henderson said in a media interview that he wanted a special experience in developing the league and team,
but the British daily Guardian pointed out that it appears that he was unable to resolve the ‘dilemma’ in the end.
The Guardian said, “Everyone sticks to their principles until they are paid £30 million (approximately 51.1 billion won) per year,” and “How absurd it is that he plays for a club in Liverpool that censors a photo of himself wearing a pro-gay armband. “
I think I realized that it was not in harmony with my values,” he explained. Moreover, compared to Europe, where soccer is the most popular sport, Saudi enthusiasm for soccer is low.
British media have been reporting since early this month that “Henderson had difficulty motivating himself as a professional player after seeing empty stands everywhere.”
Although world-famous soccer star Steven Gerrard was appointed as manager and Henderson, who played a key role at Liverpool,
was recruited, the average attendance at RET Park at the beginning of this season is understood to have been only 31% of the home stadium’s capacity (approximately 35,000 seats). .
According to Transfermarkt, the average attendance at RET Park, which has played nine home games since the opening of the 2023-2024 season, was estimated at around 7,800.
Last year, only 696 people attended the home game against Alyad on October 23rd.
This is in contrast to Anfield, where Liverpool’s home game was held in May of that year, when about 53,000 people entered and filled the stadium with excitement. Henderson is also suffering from ‘polarization’,
which is highlighted as a structural problem in the Saudi league. RET Park, which was unable to bring in a star player from European soccer other than Henderson, is in 8th place with 6 wins, 7 draws, and 6 losses.
On the other hand, Al Nasr, who recruited Cristiano Ronaldo, Sadio Mane, and Marcello Brozovic, and Al Hilal, who added Neymar, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Aleksandar Mitrovic, formed a strong structure early on.
Al Hilal is leading with 17 wins, 2 draws, while Al Nasr is chasing with 15 wins, 1 draw, and 3 losses. Saudi Arabia announced in June last year that it plans to hold 75% of the shares of Al-Nasr, Al-Hilal, Al-Ittihad, and Al-Ahli through its sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF).
The PIF, with a fund of $600 billion (approximately 803 trillion won), has control over four teams and can exercise direct influence over player recruitment,
but the side effect of alienating the remaining teams has been expected.
As part of the economic and social reform project ‘Vision 2030’, Saudi Arabia wants to increase the market value of the league itself from the current KRW 1 trillion to KRW 2.8 trillion by 2030.
There were many analyzes that the first step was to bring in a large number of star players.
However, excluding some star-studded clubs such as Al-Hilal and Al-Nasr, the average number of spectators this season is known to be less than 10,000 for the remaining teams.
The match between Alyad and Al-Khaliz held last month attracted the attention of Western media with only 144 people attending the stadium.