The 0-0 draw last month between the 2016 North American Soccer League (NASL) and 2016 Saudi Professional League champions, New York Cosmos and Al-Hilal FC, represented far more than a tilt on a football pitch. The match in Riyadh served as an opportunity for international unity, economic growth, and friendship through the game of football.
“By participating in this momentous event, we continue our club’s tradition of traveling across the globe to promote soccer, unity, and friendship,” Rocco B. Commisso, the Cosmos owner detailed in a statement.
The success of the friendly match brings optimism from both sides, and indicates the level of support one could expect for future events of the same nature from the General Entertainment Authority.
Football serves as a perfect vehicle to engage on the global stage.
As Saudi Arabia’s most popular sport, football serves as a perfect vehicle to engage on the global stage, and the General Entertainment Authority is aware of the possibilities that lie ahead. The Deputy Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has put sports, culture, and entertainment in the forefront of his strategy to bring the Kingdom into the 21st century via Vision 2030.
Included within the vision, those in Saudi Arabia are promised a “vibrant society with fulfilling lives.” Further, the plans underline the importance of sports and the encouragement planned for citizens and residents to take part in events, activities, and programs, referred to as “Daem.”
By 2030, Saudi Arabia plans to increase household spending on cultural and entertainment programs from the current 2.9 percent level to 6 percent. To assist with achieving this goal, Prince Mohammed recently announced plans for the development of Saudi Arabia’s largest entertainment, cultural, and sports city in Al Qidiya, southwest of the capital, Riyadh.
The plans indicate that this development will create an unprecedented sports city, and one that will substantially contribute to diversifying national income.
As the further enhancements to Saudi Arabia take place in the coming years, the Kingdom will undoubtedly jump into the athletic world without fear. Saudi has already proven to be a successful host, and is prepared to showcase its abilities to others. Cosmos players can attest.
“The atmosphere at the stadium was great,” said New York midfielder, Juan Guerra. “It was an honor to come all the way from America to play [in Riyadh]. We felt very welcome,” he added.
Read more at Empire of Soccer.