When money talks. Karim Benzema (37, Al Ittihad) has already changed his mind.
Benzema made headlines when he signed a three-year contract with Al Ittihad in June last year, with a guaranteed salary of €100 million ($142.8 million). However, Benzema’s life in Saudi Arabia turned into a nightmare less than a year later.
‘The Sun’ reported on July 17, “Star players who entered the Saudi Arabian league for big money are looking forward to returning to Europe. Karim Benzema, Neymar, Firmino, Kante, Jordan Henderson and most other players want to return to Europe.”
The athlete, who asked not to be named, said: “It’s too hot in Saudi. Most of the training takes place in the evening after the sun goes down. It’s hard to adapt to such a schedule.”
The lack of soccer enthusiasm, unlike in Europe, is also a factor. Jordan Henderson, who played for Liverpool at Anfield in front of 50,000 people, now plays at Al Ittifaq in front of 610. The average attendance in the Saudi league is less than 10,000. As the fans’ enthusiasm wanes, so does the players’.
Athletes face many inconveniences in their daily lives. Saudi Arabia still bans women from driving. Even foreign women have to cover their faces. There is also a ban on drinking alcohol, which is very frustrating.
As a result, the families who move in with the athletes are very unhappy. The husbands of the athletes have no choice but to agree with their wives. Some of the players’ families have returned to Europe because they couldn’t cope with life in Saudi Arabia. Even the players who have become goose husbands are complaining of loneliness.
To make matters worse, the national team has announced that “players who play in the low-level Saudi league will not be selected for the national team.” Players hoping to qualify for Euro 2024 are praying to get out of Saudi Arabia as soon as possible.