Claims Saudi Arabia Bent Marriage Law For Cristiano Ronaldo Sparks Debate Photo by: AFP/Karim Jaafar

A man reportedly made a $2.66 million (10 million riyals) bid for a ticket to watch Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi play against each other on Thursday, Jan. 19.

Mushref Al-Ghamdi, a Saudi Arabian businessman and the general manager of real estate group AqarOne, bid $2.66 million (10 million riyals) and became the highest bidder for the “Beyond Imagination” ticket. The ticket guaranteed the winner a chance to watch Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi play against each other in Thursday’s match in Riyadh. In the friendly match, Messi's Paris Saint-Germain play against a team comprised of players from Saudi teams Al Hilal and Al Nassr, who recently signed Ronaldo, New York Post reported.

Thursday’s match in Riyadh is Ronaldo's and Messi's first on-pitch meeting since Juventus beat Barcelona 3-0 two years ago in Dec. 2020.

Winning bidder Al-Ghamdi will also get a chance to attend the winner’s ceremony after the match, watch the match next to the GEA chairman, and meet the two legendary players Messi and Ronaldo. He will also get an opportunity to meet Messi's fellow PSG stars, Neymar Jr. and Kylian Mbappé as well, CNN reported.

Al-Ghamdi will also get the opportunity to attend a gala lunch. He will also be able to enter both teams’ locker rooms, as well as be a part of the crowning ceremony and join a group photo with the winning team.

The revenue from the auction for the “Beyond Imagination” ticket will go to the Saudi charity Ehsan. On its website, Ehsan says that they work to enhance “the leading role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in development and charitable work.”

Even though the money will go to charity, the event could also fuel accusations of “sportswashing” by Saudi Arabia. They could face accusations of distracting attention from rights abuses by splashing money on sports.

Ronaldo joined Al Nassr after the World Cup in Dec. 2022. Meanwhile, Messi has been a tourism ambassador for Saudi Arabia since May 2022. Paris St Germain is also owned by the Qatari government, which has just staged the World Cup.

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