The Saudi Pro League (SPL) domestic soccer competition has added another commercial deal to its growing portfolio, bringing in the Saudi Tourism Authority as a partner.

The ‘Saudi, Welcome to Arabia’ brand is now a platinum sponsor of the 18-team league, with the deal announced midway through the 2023-24 season.

The two parties will work together to “develop and promote tourism products and experiences” within the kingdom, using the league’s new-found popularity – it now has several overseas broadcast deals in place, for example – as leverage.

The league has said the deal is “expected to bolster connections with Saudi soccer clubs, setting the stage for future partnerships and collaborations."

This marks the second major SPL sponsorship unveiled this week – the league recently entered into a deal with soft drinks and snack foods giant PepsiCo.

Through a tie-up lasting for the remainder of the 2023-24 campaign and through the 2024-25 season, PepsiCo is now a top-tier gold partner of the league.

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During mid-2023, the SPL embarked on a player acquisition spree, with its member clubs signing a significant profile of foreign players – including Brazilian superstar Neymar – in an attempt to grow the competition.

Real estate firm Roshn, fully owned by the state-backed Public Investment Fund which also controls four SPL teams, has been the league's title sponsor since 2022.

Carlo Nohra, the Saudi Pro League’s chief operating officer, has said: “Our partnership with ‘Saudi, Welcome to Arabia’ reflects [the league’s] expanding influence and appeal globally. It embodies our mutual commitment to excellence and our dedication to delivering memorable experiences for soccer fans from around the world.”

Abdullah Ibrahim Alhagbani, chief of partnerships and executive affairs at the Saudi Tourism Authority, added: “Our partnership with RSL represents a significant step forward in our mission to elevate Saudi Arabia as a leading global tourism destination. Together, we will showcase Saudi’s rich cultural heritage and diverse attractions.”

The SPL is this month beginning a relationship with a new match ball supplier, after striking a deal with Adidas in January.

The Saudi Tourism Authority, meanwhile, is also a partner of cricket’s Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament.

Visit Saudi is also a global sponsor of Spanish men's soccer’s top-tier LaLiga, through a deal that began last August.

That same body was at one time reported to be in talks with soccer’s global governing body FIFA around a deal for the 2023 Women's World Cup before FIFA confirmed such a deal would not be taking place after heavy criticism of the idea by multiple human rights organizations.

Saudi Arabia has been accused at length over recent years of attempting to use the sponsorship and hosting of high-profile events to sportswash its chequered human rights record.