SPORTS LAW AT THE CROSSROADS

La Liga-Saudi deal puts cash before player development, says Spanish players union

January 23 – A ground-breaking agreement between Spanish football and authorities in Saudi Arabia has received a furious rebuke from Spain’s football union which says the arrival of nine Saudi players in La Liga will harm local development and is purely a money-earning exercise.

The loan signings were announced at the weekend with three top-flight and four second-tier Spanish clubs taking them on for the rest of the season.

The deal is between the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Arabian Football federation and La Liga but Spain’s footballers’ union say it sacrifices “the essence of this sport”.

“This new business model prioritises the economic aspect over the sporting one,” said Spain’s footballers’ union (AFE).

Saudi Arabia will make their first World Cup appearance in 12 years in Russia and Turky Al Al Sheikh (pictured), chairman of the General Sport Authority of Saudi Arabia, said the country was “committed to give the youth the chance to achieve their objectives and play football at the highest level possible.”

But the union said this was not the right way.

“This agreement impedes the development of young footballers and represents an obstacle to the opportunities for the youth academy, which isn’t always accorded this type of opportunity,” it added.

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