The whole football world is talking about Saudi Arabia’s offensive and its petrodollars, Robert Mancini the guide. There is Riyadh in the fate of the former sampdorian 10, the first coach of Italy who began his journey precisely by facing the Arab national team, now the demiurge of a football that wants to conquer positions in the world, in terms of consideration even before in the Fifa ranking . So tomorrow the new adventure of ‘Mancio’, as coach of the Falconi, starts from Newcastle. To try to restore perspective (the last Asian Cup won was in 1996) and to put the controversy over the farewell to Italy which is still chasing him behind. At St. James Park, at 10pm local time, Saudi Arabia plays its first friendly ahead of the Asian Cup, against Costa Rica. The city was not chosen by chance: Newcastle, a Premier League club, is owned by the Saudi Arabian fund. This is also why a protest by English fans is expected outside the stadium tomorrow, led by a former player who is an icon, Alan Shearerwho protest against the property.
Today the clubs of the ECA, the European association, expressed their concern about the payment guarantees of the over 800 million euros spent by the Saudi League clubs to buy champions and average players behind the closed doors of the Berlin assembly Europeans: not that Riyadh lacks liquidity, but any delay in timing or failure to comply with the procedures would trigger the strict UEFA sustainability rules. Mancini’s concerns, obviously, are different. Saudi Arabia comes from consecutive defeats, against Oman, Venezuela and Bolivia and the qualification process for the 2026 World Cup begins in November; he currently holds position number 54 in the Fifa world rankings, and tomorrow’s opponent – awaiting South Korea on Tuesday – is at 46. Starting well to confirm the lucky star is essential, but the coach of the Arabs more than on technical values absolutes and preparation (a few days of training in the United Kingdom) must necessarily focus on enthusiasm. In Riyadh they still remember the historic victory over Messi’s Argentina, in the first match of a World Cup which ended with elimination in the first round.