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Chiellini calls for trust and respect as Saudi Pro League looks to transform world football


Giorgio Chiellini believes the Saudi Pro League deserves greater respect as the Gulf state aims to build a competition capable of shifting the global power dynamic in football.

The former Juventus defender, who announced his retirement on Monday, made a similarly unexpected move to the United States when joining MLS side Los Angeles FC in 2022.

Having admired from afar when Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Neymar all completed the switch to Saudi Arabia, Chiellini thinks world football must take note of the ongoings in Saudi Arabia.

Indeed, FIFA announced in October that Saudi Arabia was the only country to submit a bid to host the 2034 World Cup before the deadline, making a second tournament in the Gulf a formality following last year’s World Cup in Qatar.

“I think that we have to respect this type of new league and new market,” Chiellini, who confirmed his retirement on Monday, told Stats Perform.

“Saudi Arabia is trying to do a lot of new advertising ahead of the World Cup in 2034 to host a good tournament – not like what happened in Qatar. They were trying to do their best but weren’t able to develop football in the culture.

“It maybe needs more time. They have just started to build a basis a little better than Qatar and they have a much bigger state than Qatar; that could help them reach this goal.”

A host of world-class talent has been enticed to the Saudi Pro League, with players struggling to refuse lucrative contracts.

But Chiellini called for trust in Saudi Arabia’s efforts.

“They are doing something unexpected and something so strong in this way,” he added. “But I think that they are very trustworthy and it’s not a fake moment that will finish.

“Then we’ll see, I don’t know how it will continue to develop and there are many directions [that it could go], but it’s something that we have to respect.

“We have to accept and I think that we have to take advantage of all that, but also we could adapt that in both ways.

“[It is] something that could be good for everyone, from European football and Saudi, it depends on the way you want to see it but it’s something that we could expect for years to come.”





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