Cristiano Ronaldo, Sadio Mané, Jordan Henderson: More and more professionals are playing for big money in Saudi Arabia. A German coach predicts that players will soon be moving there as well.
There are enough old stars at the current World Cup in Australia and New Zealand: Marta (37), Christine Sinclair (40), Alex Morgan (34) and a few, somewhat less well-known ones. So far, women’s football hasn’t had a well-paying league to head to just for the career autumn, but that could soon change.
German coach Monika Staab, who works in Saudi Arabia, expects prominent female footballers to move to the desert state in the future – even from Germany. Saudi Arabian clubs have been causing a stir for quite some time with multi-million dollar transfers of well-known professionals such as Cristiano Ronaldo or, most recently, Sadio Mané. The clubs not only want to become champions in the men’s game, but also in the women’s game, Staab said in the “Players” podcast of “Deutschlandfunk”. The 64-year-old has been building a women’s selection team in Saudi Arabia since 2021.
“I don’t want to give too much away, but there are rumours that about four, five world-class players who also participate in the World Cup are going to Saudi Arabia,” Staab said. She said there were several men’s clubs that had also taken up women’s football and were investing in European coaches to raise the quality. “I think we will see one or two female players – including German ones – who may be of retirement age, going to Saudi Arabia to play football,” Staab said.
Saudi Arabia has granted women more rights in recent years. Since 2018, for example, women have been allowed to drive cars and to attend football matches as spectators, among other things. Last October, a women’s Premier League started with eight teams. However, the country is repeatedly criticised for human rights violations. Saudi Arabia has a particularly conservative reading of Islam, which curtails the rights of women.