Karim Benzema’s move to Al-Ittihad club in Saudi Arabia and more recently Neymar’s move to Al Hilal highlights the nation’s strategic approach of using sports, especially football, to overhaul its global image and achieve internal transformation as outlined in the Vision 2030 plan. Led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), Saudi Arabia aims to recover its international reputation by shifting from aggressive actions to sports-driven diplomacy (sportwashing). Despite lagging behind regional counterparts, recent investments have turned Saudi Arabia into a sporting hub, hosting major events and acquiring foreign clubs. Notably, the acquisition of Newcastle United through the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) underscores this approach. Through signings like Cristiano Ronaldo and ambitious projects like NEOM, Saudi Arabia aims to rebrand itself internationally and showcase its progress.

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