Saudi businessman spends $2.6m to watch Ronaldo-Messi game

Saudi businessman spends $2.6m to watch Ronaldo-Messi game

After placing a $2.6 million bid at auction, a Saudi real estate tycoon has won a ticket to see Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi square off in a friendly, according to an official.

Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain will play a select team made up of players from Ronaldo’s new team Al Nassr and their Saudi rivals Al Hilal on Thursday in Riyadh.

According to sources close to the club, it will be the first time Ronaldo has played any football in the kingdom since agreeing to a deal with Al Nassr that extends until 2025 and is worth more than 200 million euros ($214 million).

On Sunday, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will play for Al Nassr in his Saudi Pro League debut.

To promote Thursday’s friendly, Turki al-Sheikh, an adviser at the Royal Court and head of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, announced a charity auction for a special ticket that would come with perks like photo opportunities with players and access to the locker rooms.

Bidding started at 1 million Saudi riyals ($266,000) and the auction closed at 11:30pm (20:30 GMT) on Tuesday.

Al-Sheikh then announced on Twitter the winning bid of 10 million riyals ($2.6m) had come from Mushref al-Ghamdi.

“Congratulations, you deserve it, and may God reward you with good,” Sheikh said.

The proceeds from the auction are due to go to the national charity campaign known as Ehsan.

Besides Messi, the PSG players expected to play on Thursday include France striker Kylian Mbappe and Achraf Hakimi, who last year in Qatar helped make Morocco the first Arab and African team to reach the World Cup semifinals.