Cristiano Ronaldo lined up on the football field to face Lionel Messi once again on Thursday. Ronaldo is playing for Saudi All-star XI against Lionel Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain in a friendly match. It is the first time Ronaldo will be playing any football in Saudi Arabia since signing a contract with Al Nassr that runs until 2025 and is worth more than 200 million euros ($214 million), according to sources close to the club. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is scheduled to make his Saudi Pro League debut for Al Nassr on Sunday.
Ahead of the match, Indian superstar Amitabh Bachchan greeted the players.
Watch: Amitabh Bachchan Greets Ronaldo, Messi Ahead of Blockbuster Match
Amitabh Bachchan with greatest football players of current generation
Messi neymar mbappe ronaldo #football #Ronaldo #Messi #Neymar #Mbappe #AmitabhBachchan pic.twitter.com/zOyJOriuz7
— deepak mishra (@deepakmishra_99) January 19, 2023
Even @SrBachchan , Bollywood all time Superstar knows who’s the KING #CR7 #RiyadhFC vs #PSG pic.twitter.com/1lf3eCNWgK
— Muhammad Kudrat Ali 37 (@kudratali_37) January 20, 2023
To promote Thursday’s friendly, Turki al-Sheikh, an advisor at the Royal Court and head of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, announced a charity auction for a special ticket that would come with perks like photo opportunities with players and access to the locker rooms. Bidding started at 1 million Saudi riyals ($266,000) and the auction closed at 11:30 p.m. local time on Tuesday.
Sheikh then announced on Twitter the winning bid of 10 million riyals ($2.6 million) had come from Mushref al-Ghamdi.
“Congratulations, you deserve it, and may God reward you with good,” Sheikh said.
The proceeds from the auction are due to go to the national charity campaign known as Ehsan.
Besides Messi, PSG stars who are playing on Thursday include France striker Kylian Mbappe and Achraf Hakimi, who last year in Qatar helped make Morocco the first Arab and African team to reach the World Cup semi-finals.
The Saudi select team includes Salem Al-Dawsari, who scored the winning goal in the Green Falcons’ shock defeat of Argentina in the World Cup’s group stage.
Oil-rich monarchy Saudi Arabia, which has been snapping up sports assets as part of a drive to soften its austere image, is often accused of “sportswashing”, or using sport to distract attention from human rights controversies.
Ronaldo is expected to receive a combined 400 million euros in the kingdom, including a separate payment for his work as an ambassador for an anticipated World Cup bid for Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Greece, according to sources close to Al Nassr.
With AFP inputs
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