For the latest from the pitch sign up for our football newsletter
We have more newsletters
Lionel Messi has reportedly made a deal to promote Saudi Arabia's 2030 World Cup bid rivalling his native Argentina's proposal.
Saudi Arabia are mounting a bid to host the tournament in eight years time in conjunction with Egypt and Greece. But they face stiff competition from Spain and Portugal's joint proposal, plus another challenge from Messi's Argentina, who concocted their bid with fellow South American nations Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile.
Argentina had been banking on the support of their biggest star to promote their bid. The region were so confident that Messi, along with Luis Suarez would be behind their proposal, its co-orchestrator Fernando Marin insisted to The Athletic in 2018: "Messi will join us in this initiative, and Suarez certainly.
ALSO READ: Roy Keane left fuming at Harry Kane for not wearing One Love armband at World Cup
"We told him (Messi) about our aims, and he feels it’s doable. He showed great desire to help us. He will surely be the flag-bearer for the World Cup.”
But Argentina's hopes have been dealt a huge blow as Messi's thrown his weight behind Saudi Arabia's initiative to host the World Cup, according to The Athletic. The report suggests Messi's motivation behind backing his homeland's Middle Eastern rival is financial, although the forward's team declined to comment on the matter.
Do you think Messi's wrong to promote a rival World Cup bid to Argentina for the 2030 tournament? Let us know in the comments section below
However, a Saudi Arabian native did have something to say about Messi's involvement and slammed the 35-year-old for being a pawn for 'Saudi sports washing.' Khalid Al-Jabri, who has siblings locked up in Saudi Arabia fumed: "He (Messi) sold himself to the devil.”
But it's not the first time Messi's hopped into bed with the Saudi's, the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner closed a deal with the country to promote tourism, unlike Cristiano Ronaldo who allegedly turned down a £5million sum to do the same. And Messi's deal is ostensibly five times more lucrative than the offer presented to Ronaldo, according to an anonymous source, the report added.
The details of Messi's deal haven't been publicised, and his representatives, nor the Saudi government, could shed any light on his contract. Messi jetted to the region in May for the first time in his ambassadorial role and took pictures with Saudi royalty, leading the country's minister of tourism to Ahmed al-Khateeb, to claim: “This is not his first visit to the kingdom and it will not be the last."
If Messi's support helps Saudi Arabia win the rights to host the World Cup, it would be the second time the competition will be held in winter, following this year's tournament in Qatar. The Qatar spectacle has been shrouded by controversy and began on November 20, with the likes of England getting off to a spectacular start.
World Cup reporter robbed live on air – and left baffled by Qatari police response
Al-Qaeda demand jihad of 'pornographic' World Cup 'invasion' by 'stoning' people
Wales' sexiest fan promises OnlyFans discount if Dragons win World Cup matches
'Condoms and absolute carnage' saw Team GB footy team taken away from London 2012
Jack Grealish celebration 'made the year' of emotional cerebral palsy sufferer Finlay
- Lionel Messi
- World Cup
Source: Read Full Article