A FOOTBALL agent has revealed that footballers who move to Saudi Arabia are “treated like royalty”.
Charles Cardoso said stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar could be exempted from Saudi Arabia’s tough alcohol and partying laws.
Portugal star Ronaldo, 38, started a new life in Saudi Arabia after making a lucrative move to Al-Nassr on a £175million-a-year contract.
Neymar also joined the Middle East team by signing with Al-Hilal where he is set to earn £2.5million a week.
The ex-PSG’s financial package could then be as high as £314m for just two seasons – subject to additions and commercial deals.
The Brazilian star is the latest in a long line of high-profile players to join Saudi Arabia this summer.
He joins Kalidou Koulibaly, Ruben Neves, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Malcom at Al-Hilal.
Cardoso, club president of Águas de Santa Bárbara FC in São Paulo, explained that Saudi Arabia – unlike other wealthy nations – is an extremely attractive option for athletes.
With fewer taxes, there is no limit to the salaries and perks that can be offered to bring players to the kingdom.
And although alcohol and wild partying are strictly prohibited in Saudi Arabia, exceptions to the kingdom’s strict rules could be negotiated for players, Cardosa revealed.
“When it comes to the big ones, exceptions could be agreed when their contracts are negotiated,” he told The Sun.
“That means players could potentially drink and party at home, always with caution of course.”
Cardo said that unlike other expats and visitors, footballers moving to Saudi Arabia also need a diplomatic visa.
“Before the signing of the contract dries up, a lifetime of perks awaits the players in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“The players are treated like kings there.
“Initially, you are not traveling with a sports visa, but with a diplomatic visa.
“Neymar will be making the record £2.5million-a-week – I think that says it all about the power of Saudi Arabia.”
“But that doesn’t just apply to big stars as the average footballer can earn up to £1million a month.”
And multi-million pound salaries are just the tip of the iceberg.
Players are offered luxurious apartments and gated villas along with a dense private security network, which the agent says is one of its biggest selling points.
“Whether it’s a gated villa or a luxury penthouse, players usually have to live close to the clubs so they don’t get late for training,” Cardosa said.
When Ronaldo landed in the country, he first stayed at a Four Seasons hotel in the Kingdom Tower – one of the tallest buildings in Saudi Arabia.
The former Manchester United star stayed in the “Kingdom Suite” – which is spread over two levels of the 99-story skyscraper.
The price of the suite is not listed, however the smaller ‘Presidential Suite’ is available for £3,300 per night.
It is understood he left the hotel in February and moved into a luxurious new apartment – believed to be in an exclusive complex with top-notch security.
Al Muhammadiyah and Al Nakheel – prestigious areas of Saudi Arabia – are typical ideal destinations for top footballers.
Both are gated communities near Al-Nassr’s Msool Park Stadium.
Before the contract expires, a lifetime of perks awaits the players in Saudi Arabia
The areas are equipped with swimming pools, schools, shops, clinics, gyms and restaurants.
This means that Ronaldo rarely has to leave the premises for training sessions or games.
However, when it comes time to send kids to school, players will most likely need to send them to a local school, where girls must adhere to the norm of covering their hair with a hijab.
However, Cardoso said there are other options for players – and that efforts are likely to be made in their contracts to accommodate their needs.
“As far as education goes, there’s an opportunity for the kids to be tutored at home by a private tutor,” he said.
“Especially for countries like Brazil and Portugal, moving to a place like Saudi Arabia can be a huge culture shock.
“Therefore, both parties try to respond to the needs of the player.”
Soccer stars get some pretty generous freebies too, with brands like Ferrari giving away some of their supercars to Ronaldo.
“I think Cristiano has five Ferrari cars in his garage and rumor has it he can choose a different car to match his outfit every day of the week,” Cardoso joked.
The Real Madrid legend has a whole range of engines – all part of his impressive £17million fleet.
Neymar also decided to add to his dream car collection after moving to the Middle East.
A brand new Aston Martin and a brand new Lamborghini are two of the eight new additions to his stable, which is valued at over £1million.
Cardoso explained how the Saudi market has grown rapidly since the big names landed in the country.
And he assumes that more and more players will dare to make the change in the coming seasons.
“It’s no news to anyone that the Saudis have big money,” he said.
“But unlike countries like China – which became a failure in football – they had a big long-term vision for the football industry.”
“The Saudi strategy is to get the biggest names first to give the country more visibility, attract tourists and showcase their great infrastructure for footballers.”
“Then they want to sell all these players back to Europe at insane prices.”
“I can definitely imagine more and more players moving to Saudi Arabia in the coming seasons – this is an absolute jackpot for players, clubs and investors.”