Messi and Benzema, Saudis and Soccer, Bread and Circuses

Logo The New York TimesThe New York Times
2023-06-09 13:15:10  • 12 mins

Soccer is the ultimate prize in Saudi Arabias push in sports. Karim Benzemas signing offered a glimpse of the price tag. Lionel Messis rejection showed its limits.

Two things stood out about Karim Benzemas arrival in Jeddah on Wednesday evening. The first was the look on his face. From the second his private jet touched down at King Abdulaziz International Airport to the moment an unspecified but apparently inordinate time later that he finally made it out into the Saudi Arabian night, Benzema looked distinctly baffled.

Perhaps it was just the effect of the long flight, or the lingering impact of what must have been a whirlwind few days, or the fact that people were talking to him in French, English, Spanish and Arabic, only three of which he actually speaks. His smile did not waver, but nor did the slight hint of confusion in his eyes.

It was there as he was hustled through the bright, echoing halls of the arrivals terminal, as he was seated in an ornate chair in some sort of conference room, fiddling with the yellow-and-black Al-Ittihad scarf that had been placed around his neck, as he was presented with two smiling, but wholly unidentified, children. Throughout, Benzema had the countenance of a man who had been recently startled.

Continue read on

Leo Messi will look to claim his second title in the United States with Inter Miami on Wednesday when they take on the Houston Dynamo in the US Open Cup...
Logo MarcaMarca
2023-09-26 17:49:12  • 1 min
Manchester clubs rejected Felix Refused to join Aston Villa Moved to Barcelona on transfer deadline day WHAT HAPPENED? As per Futre, once Joao Felix's...
Logo GoalGoal
2023-09-26 10:25:22  • 1 min
Safe to say that December 2022 is a month that Cristiano Ronaldo would rather forget. Everything he had envisioned when it came to the World Cup in Qatar...
Logo MarcaMarca
2023-09-26 18:46:59  • 1 min
Leo Messi has taken over all the headlines in MLS since joining Inter Miami. Someone who is no doubt happy to see all the interest the Argentine has...
Logo MarcaMarca
2023-09-26 18:43:57  • 1 min
Houston Dynamo go up against Inter Miami in the final of the US Open Cup on 27 September 2023 at 8.30 p.m. ET/5.30 p.m. PT. Ahead of the game at DRV PNK...
Logo AsAs
2023-09-26 08:14:43  • 2 mins
Atletico Madrid legend Paulo Futre has branded Joao Felix 's success with Barcelona a "nightmare". Felix has hit the ground running at Barca since joining...
Logo TribalfootballTribalfootball
2023-09-26 06:37:10  • 1 min
Inter Miami boss Gerardo Tata Martino gave an interview ahead of yet another final for the club in the clubs short history. The MLS side are set to face...
Logo AsAs
2023-09-26 06:24:38  • 2 mins
The likes of Nick Powell and Paul Mullin are more popular than Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar at least according to attendance figures. Despite a double-decker...
Logo Daily StarDaily Star
2023-09-25 07:41:44  • 1 min
Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders believes that Mohamed Salah should be 'cherished' for all that he brings to the team. Salah is the Reds'...
Logo 90min90min
2023-09-26 16:15:47  • 1 min
Liverpool assistant coach Pepjin Lijnders is full of praise for attacker Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian has continued his remarkable consistency in front of...
Logo TribalfootballTribalfootball
2023-09-26 17:37:53  • 1 min
La Liga president Javier Tebas has claimed he is "70 or 80%" sure that Kylian Mbappe will join a Spanish club next summer, with Real Madrid expected to land...
Logo 90min90min
2023-09-26 13:50:05  • 1 min
John Terry is set to become the latest high-profile name to move to Saudi Arabia - but he isn't going there to be a manager. The Chelsea legend, who was...
Logo Daily StarDaily Star
2023-09-26 08:54:56  • 2 mins
Manchester United were among the clubs offered the chance to sign Joao Felix this summer before he joined Barcelona on loan, according to Atletico Madrid...
Logo 90min90min
2023-09-26 08:40:23  • 1 min
Brazilian superstar Neymar has hit back at lies and disrespect following claims that he is attempting to get Al-Hilal boss Jorge Jesus the sack. The former...
Logo The MirrorThe Mirror
2023-09-26 08:12:49  • 1 min
Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but it does not always guarantee success. That's the lesson Mauro Icardi and Kerem Akturkoglu likely...
Logo CBS SportsCBS Sports
2023-09-26 17:46:08  • 1 min
Busquets sympathizes with fans Messi could miss another game Miami face Houston in final WHAT HAPPENED? Messi has sat out three of Inter Miami's last four...
Logo GoalGoal
2023-09-26 16:49:35  • 1 min
Inter Miami coach Tata Martino said that he will wait "until the last moment" to make a decision on whether Leo Messi, who is struggling with a muscle...
Logo MarcaMarca
2023-09-26 20:50:39  • 1 min
Sofyan Amrabat could make his first Old Trafford appearance for Manchester United in Tuesday nights Carabao Cup tie against Crystal Palace following a brief...
Logo Daily MailDaily Mail
2023-09-26 12:13:32  • 1 min
Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo has left the door open to Joao Felix returning. Felix is on-loan at Barcelona this season, where he has kicked off...
Logo TribalfootballTribalfootball
2023-09-26 05:15:22  • 1 min
Messi's status still uncertain Alba likely out Miami face Dynamo in U.S. Open Cup final WHAT HAPPENED? Messi's status heading into the match is to be...
Logo GoalGoal
2023-09-26 16:16:57  • 1 min