Crown Prince’s Presence At King’s Cup Final A Boost For Saudi Football
PARIS, France - The King’s Cup Final between Al Hilal and Al Wehda on May 12 will be a special occasion for Saudi football fans, not only because of the quality and intensity of the match, but also because of the presence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who will attend the game and hand over the trophy to the winners.
The Crown Prince’s attendance is a testament to his keen interest and support for the development of sports in the Kingdom, especially football, which is the most popular among Saudis. His patronage reflects the vision and ambition of the regional and international levels.
The Crown Prince has been instrumental in initiating and implementing several reforms and initiatives that have transformed the Saudi football landscape in recent years. These include:
- The launch of the Quality of Life Program 2020, which aims to increase the participation and excellence of Saudis in sports, as well as to diversify the entertainment options and enhance the quality of life in the Kingdom.
- The establishment of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) as an independent body that oversees and regulates all aspects of football in the Kingdom, from grassroots to professional levels.
- The expansion and modernization of sports infrastructure, such as stadiums, training facilities and academies, to provide world-class venues and service for players, coaches and fans.
- The promotion and sponsorship of major international sporting events in the Kingdom, such as the Spanish Super Cup, the Italian Super Cup, the Formula F Championship and the Dakar Rally, which have enhanced the Kingdom’s reputation and attractiveness as a global sports destination.
- The support and encouragement of Saudi Players to pursue professional careers abroad, such as Fahad Al Muwallad, Salem Al Dawsari and Yahya Al Shehri, who played in La Liga in 2018, or Abdullah Otayf, who joined Lille in France in 2021. These moves have exposed Saudi players to different cultures and styles of play, and have improved their skills and confidence.
- The development and empowerment of women’s football in the Kingdom, which
witnessed the launch of the first women’s football league in 2020, as well as the appointment of women in key positions in SAFF and PFL.
These efforts have paid off handsomely, as Saudi football has achieved remarkable results and milestones in recent years. These include:
- The qualification of the Saudi national team for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, after missing out on the previous two editions. The team performed well at the tournament, beating Egypt 2-1 in their final group match.
- The winning of the 2018 Asian Games gold medal by the Saudi under-23 national team, which defeated Japan 2-1 in the final. This was the first team that Saudi Arabia won a gold medal in football at any multi-sport event.
- The reaching of the round of 16 at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup by the Saudi national team, which finished second in their group behind eventual champions Qatar. The team lost 2-0 to Japan in a close match.
- The domination of Asian club competitions by Saudi clubs, especially Al Hilal, who won the AFC Champions League title twice in 2017 and 2019, as well as reaching the final in 2014 and 2020. Al Nassr also reached the semi-finals in 2020, while Al Ittihad won the Arab Club Champions Cup in 2019.
- The emergence and recognition of several talented and promising players who have impressed at both club and national levels, such as Yasser Al Shahrani, Salman Al Faraj, Abdullah Al Hamdan, Firas Al Buraikan and Ayman Yahya.
The Crown Prince’s presence at the King’s Cup final will be a source of inspiration and motivation for both Al Hilal and Al Wehda players, who will be eager to impress him with their skills and spirit. It will also be a sign of appreciation and gratitude for all those who have contributed to the development and success of Saudi football, from officials and coaches to players and fans.
The King’s Cup Final will be a celebration of Saudi football’s achievements and aspirations. It will also be an opportunity to showcase Saudi Arabia’s progress and potential as a modern and dynamic nation that embraces sports.
The Derby of the Two Holy Mosques: Al Hilal vs Al Wehda In The King’s Cup Final
- Al Hilal and Al Wehda are two of the oldest and most successful football clubs in Saudi Arabia. Al Hilal was founded in 1957 and has won 16 league titles, 9 King’s Cup titles and 3 AFC Champions League titles. Al Wehda was founded in 1954 and won 2 league titles and 2 King’s Cup titles.
- Al Hilal and Al Wehda have a fierce rivalry that dates back to the 1970, when they competed for the league title several times. The matches between them are known as the “Derby of the Two Holy Mosques’’, as they represent the cities of Riyadh and Mecca, where the two holiest mosques in Islam are located.
- Al Hilal and Al Wehda have met twice this season in the league, with Al Hilal winning both matches by 2-1 and 3-1. The King’s Cup final will be their third encounter this season and their first meeting in a cup final since 2009, when Al Hilal won 2-0.
- Al Hilal and Al Wehda have several players who are also part of the Saudi national team, such as Salman Al Faraj, Andre Carrilo, Odion Ighalo and Michael de Oliveira for Al Hilal and Anselmo, Gerson Rodrigues, Oscar Duarte and Faycal Fajr for Al Wehda. These players will be keen to impress the Crown Prince and the fans with their performances in the final