Getting It Both Ways! Lionel Messi Secures $25 Million From Saudi Arabia For Just Being Messi

Lionel Messi may be a South Floridian now, but his rejection of the Saudi Arabia deal was not a total one, as he has netted another bag from his courtship with the desert financiers. The soccer superstar and current Forbes highest-paid athlete has a new deal with the Saudia Arabian tourism authority to soften the image of the Middle Eastern region.

There is more than just soccer that Messi can be useful for the Saudis. He is a face that people can trust, after all.

Messi could earn as much as €22.5 million, about $25 million in three years, by showcasing Saudi Arabia and traveling there, filming commercials, and posting his trips to the Middle Eastern country, per a weekend report from The New York Times. A breakdown of the contract between Messi and the Saudi tourism authority showed that he only has to do a little except post and chill in the country a few times.

The trips will be all-expenses-paid vacations with his family and children to the kingdom, and he will be expected to share images of those trips with a Saudi-approved hashtag. The partnership may have started as far back as May 9, 2022, when Messi posted on Instagram himself laid peacefully on a boat looking at the Red Sea with the caption, “Discovering the Red Sea #VisitSaudi.” Now reports show that there is no bad blood even amid his rejection of the offer to play soccer in the country.

Can You Type #ChaChing

Messi could gain around $2 million for social media posting and $2 million for a certain amount of promotional visits, and he can always uphold the country’s image. It is a real coup for the player that risked bad blood with the country when he rejected their astronomical number to lure him to play there.

However, Saudi Arabia is a country that has faced vast criticism for its human rights record. According to Amnesty International, in 2022, Saudi authorities targeted peaceful protestors. They sentenced them to lengthy prison terms. Human rights defenders were also allegedly harassed in prison and faced arbitrary travel bans following their conditional release; sometimes, courts used the death penalty as punishment for various crimes.

Additionally, the country has a widely known negative track record in discrimination against women.

Messi Much?

Per the Saudi Arabi tourism website, the country calls itself the birthplace of Islam, and “in recent years, the Kingdom has undergone a significant cultural transformation, evolving century-old customs to fit the contemporary world we live in today.”

That is the image Lionel Messi brings to a region known for being ravaged by war. He is the pinnacle of global athletic success as a World Cup winner for Argentina last December. However, reports were that his wife was one of the main reasons he didn’t accept the 1.2 billion euros over two years, or 600 million euros per year, from the Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal.

When he didn’t accept, the club even raised their offer to €1.5 billion or an astounding $1.6 billion, per Forbes. Messi’s wife, Antonella Roccuzzo, was not trying to raise their children in Saudi Arabia, and it is obvious why. Now Messi has to face the potential fan backlash for using his brand to wash clean the multiple reported injustices of the country to make it more palatable as a vacation destination.

Is he brilliant for getting another bag or foolish for entering an already “messy” situation? Only time will tell.

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