Spanish soccer’s top-tier LaLiga has added Saudi Arabia’s tourism board Visit Saudi to its portfolio of global sponsors as it looks to tap into the kingdom's growing influence in the sport.
The agreement will see LaLiga showcase Saudi Arabia as a year-round tourist destination, with LaLiga activities held in Saudi Arabia to increase the profile of the league in the kingdom.
Fahd Hamidaddin, Saudi Tourism Authority chief executive, said: “Football and travel bridge cultures and unite people. Saudi Arabia has millions of incredibly passionate football fans and as we continue to create a dynamic year-round destination, full of cultural events, we look forward to welcoming international travelers to experience the largest sporting and cultural exchange in sporting history, helping us in bringing the world to Saudi and bringing Saudi to the world.”
The sponsorship deal will be further developed through partnerships, collaborations, impactful sponsorship arrangements, digital content, and immersive consumer events.
Oscar Mayo, LaLiga executive director, said: “Signing this agreement demonstrates our strong commitment to advancing sports and football science in the Arab world, as well as expanding our presence, and that of our clubs, in a relevant global sports hub.
“I am convinced that this remarkable partnership will truly touch fans’ emotions and empower them to feel the unifying power of football. Football and travel complement each other perfectly, serving as a means to connect and unite cultures all over the world.”
The agreement comes as Saudi Arabia prepares to host the men’s FIFA Club World Cup in December. It will also stage the 2027 AFC Asian Cup and is bidding to host the Women’s Asian Cup for the first time in 2026.
The kingdom has emerged as a key player in sports investment and has poured billions into major events. However, it has been accused of using its financial prowess to launder its alleged human rights abuses, restrictions on women’s rights, and use of the death penalty.
Its latest project has been to bring high-profile players to its domestic league through lucrative contracts and high transfer fees, the latest being Brazilian superstar Neymar.
While the kingdom has made several legal changes, including ending a ban on women driving and allowing women to apply for official documents and travel abroad independently, consensual same-sex conduct is strictly prohibited, punishable by death or flogging. Women’s rights campaigners have also been imprisoned.
The 2023 LaLiga season started on August 11 and will end on Mary 26, 2024.