Saudi Arabia is using its oil money to lure European superstars like Ronaldo and Neymar to its league. It may seem like a rush, but the Saudi league has a long and storied history that predates the Korean Professional Soccer League.
The Saudi Professional League (SPL) was founded in 1976. That’s seven years ahead of the Korean Professional Soccer League, which started in 1983.
Eight teams joined the league for the first time in the 1976-1977 season, and since then, the league has gradually expanded to include 18 teams. That’s more than the 12 teams in South Korea’s K League 1.
The team with the most championships is Al-Hilal. They have won the title 18 times. Al Ittihad and Al Nasr have nine each. Al-Shabab has won the title six times, Al-Ahli three times, Al-Ettifaq twice, and Al-Fatih once.
The Saudi League has a similar status to the K League in Asia. Like the K League, the Saudi League has four spots in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League. As of the 2022 season, there are only four other leagues with four spots: the Saudi League, South Korea’s K League, Japan’s J League, and the Qatar League.
The most decorated team in the AFC Champions League, which recognizes the best professional soccer teams in Asia, is Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal. With four titles, Al-Hilal is ahead of South Korea’s Pohang Steelers (three) and Japan’s Urawa Reds (three).
Teams based in the capital city of Riyadh are the strongest. Al-Hilal, Al-Nasr, and Al-Shabab are all Riyadh-based clubs. Al Ittihad and Al Ahli are based in the western Saudi city of Jeddah. Al-Ettifaq is based in the eastern city of Dammam.
The all-time leading scorer in the Saudi League is Majed Abdullah with 189 goals. Nasser Al-Shamrani is second with 167 goals. Former Saudi national team captain and star player Yasser Al-Khatani is fifth on the list with 112 goals. Sami Al-Jaber, arguably the best Saudi player of all time, is eighth with 101 goals.
The Saudi league has taken the world of soccer by storm this year, attracting star players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Jordan Henderson, and Neymar. 메이저놀이터
These massive signings are reportedly being driven by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Saudi Vision 2030. Saudi Vision 2030 is a policy of reform across the kingdom’s political, economic, and social spheres. It is centered on reducing dependence on the oil industry and fostering the private economy to overcome the economic crisis caused by the decline in international oil prices.