RIYADH, January 22 (CIC) – Nine footballers from the Saudi Professional League (SPL) have signed loan contracts to play with Spanish clubs this year, under an agreement between the Saudi General Sports Authority (GSA) and the Spanish Football Federation.
A ceremony marking the signing of the nine football players to Spanish clubs was held in the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh on Sunday night. Seven clubs from the Spanish first division (La Liga) and second division (La Liga 2) reached contract agreements with the nine players from the SPL.
The contracts allow loans for an initial period of six months, during which time the players can train and develop their skills in Spain.
The players who signed professional loan contracts with La Liga clubs are Yahya al Shari (of Al-Nassr FC) for Leganés; Fahd Al Mouled (Al-Ittihad Club) for Levante; and Salem Al Dawsary (Al-Hilal FC) for Villareal.
For La Liga 2, Ali Al Nemer, Adbul Majeed Al-Sulahem and Abdullah Al-Hamdan, (all Al-Shabab FC) signed for Numancia, Rayo Vallecano and Sporting de Gijón, respectively. Nouh Al Mousa (Al-Fateh) signed with Spanish second division club Valladolid.
Non-professional contracts were offered to Saudi-born Marwan Abker and Jabour Mustafa (both Al-Shebab FC) who signed with Leganés and Villareal, respectively.
The signing of the contracts puts into effect a partnership agreement between the Saudi GSA and the Spanish Football Federation, signed by GSA Chairman Turki bin Abdulmuhsen Alasheikh during his last visit to London in October.
“Football is the most popular sport in the Kingdom,” Turki said in a speech read on his behalf at Tuesday night’s ceremony. “Alongside the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, we are committed to giving young Saudi Arabian players an opportunity to realise their goals, and play football at the highest possible standard.”
He added:“The long-term objective of the GSA is to develop Saudi Arabian football and enhance it, by raising a new generation of footballers. As for Spanish clubs, having Saudi Arabian players on board means more popularity in the Arab World, where La Liga is already one of the most popular football leagues. Integrating Saudi Arabian players into Spanish clubs enhances business and investment opportunities.”
The agreement also included the establishment of a La Liga academy in Saudi Arabia and the launch of a three-month program which focuses on uncovering Saudi talent. A team of 27 football scouts visited Saudi Arabia and attended Saudi football games to closely observe the players and discover both Saudi and Saudi-born talents. The aim was to offer contracts with Spanish clubs, a step that will benefit the players, their clubs and Saudi football in general.
On the academy Turki said, “Part of the agreement with La Liga is the Saudi Football Federation’s establishment of local football academies in Saudi Arabia under trademark, while providing technical supervision and benefitting from La Liga’s expertise. The objective is to provide the best training tools for young Saudi players allowing them to acquire sufficient skills through a long-term training process. It also aims to work with football coaches throughout the Kingdom to develop their training skills and technical methods during the coming years.”
The ceremony was attended by members of the Spanish Football Federation, 25 La Liga club representatives, as well as the heads of Saudi football clubs and the Spanish ambassador to Saudi Arabia.