A Saudi real estate tycoon has paid $2.6 million to auction a ticket for Lionel Messi’s friendly against Cristiano Ronaldo on Thursday in Riyadh, the auction organizer announced on Tuesday.
The meeting will pit Argentine world champion Lionel Messi’s Paris SG against a squad made up of the best players from the Saudi formations of Al-Nassr, Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo’s new club, and Al-Hilal.
To promote the friendly, Turki al-Sheikh, adviser to the royal court and head of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority, had started a charity auction. At stake: a ticket to the match with VIP benefits such as photo opportunities with the players and access to the dressing rooms.
The auction, which started at 1 million Saudi riyals ($266,000) ended with a 10 million riyals ($2.6 million) bid, formulated by real estate magnate Mushref al-Ghamdi .
The game will be Cristiano Ronaldo’s first in the Saudi kingdom since he signed from Al-Nassr in late December. It will precede his league debut, which is scheduled for Sunday.
The 37-year-old five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with Al-Nassr, will be handed €200m and enough to be the future ambassador of the likelihood of Saudi bid for the 2030 World Cup.
In addition to Ronaldo, the Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal player selections will also include Salem Al-Dawsari, author of the winning goal in Saudi Arabia’s surprise win over Argentina during the World Cup in Qatar.
Opposite PSG presents itself with the Argentinian world champion Lionel Messi, the French vice world champion Kylian Mbappé and the Moroccan semi-finalist Achraf Hakimi.