Saudi businessman who bid nearly Dh10 million announced winner of golden ticket

The pass includes a chance to meet Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, and Mbappé as well as entry to both locker rooms

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Published: Wed 18 Jan 2023, 7:23 PM

A Saudi real estate mogul won a ticket to see Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi face off in a friendly after bidding a whopping 10 million riyals (Dh 9.78 million) at auction, an official said on Tuesday.

It will mark the first time Ronaldo has played any football in the kingdom since signing a contract with Al Nassr that runs until 2025 and is worth more than 200 million euros, according to sources close to the club.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner is scheduled to make his Saudi Pro League debut for Al Nassr on Sunday.

To promote Thursday's friendly, Turki Al Sheikh, Chairman of General Entertainment Authority (GEA), earlier announced the auction, and also some of the perks that come with the 'Beyond Imagination' ticket — such as entry to both locker rooms, chance to meet Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, and Mbappé, and entry to the opening ceremony.

The bidding started at 250,000 euros (around Dh985,000). In less than three hours, the auction registered 1.5 million requests. On Wednesday last week, he revealed the highest bid in play, which was received from Mohamed Al Munajim, founder and CEO of Saudi tech company Azom. The bid was 9.3 million Saudi riyals (around Dh9 million), plus a donation of Azom devices to orphans and people who participated in receiving the PSG members.

The auction closed at 11.30pm local time on Tuesday. Sheikh then announced on Twitter the winning bid of 10 million riyals ($2.6 million) 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, PSG stars 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 semi-finals.

The Saudi select team includes Salem Al Dawsari, who scored the winning goal in the Green Falcons' shock defeat of Argentina in the World Cup's group stage.


The 'Beyond Imagination' ticket allows its holder to:

1. Attend the opening ceremony and sit next to Turki Al Sheikh, Chairman of General Entertainment Authority (GEA)

2. Meet Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, and Mbappé

3. Attend the Gala lunch


4. Gain entrance to both locker rooms

5. Participate in the crowning ceremony and take part in the group photo with the winning team

Turki Al Sheikh added that he is optimistic about the Saudi team's chance.

This would be another opportunity for a team from the Kingdom to make their mark in a game against a football superpower, after Saudi Arabia's shock win against Argentina in the 2022 Fifa World Cup. The world was stunned by the victory, pulled off by a team 48 places below Argentina in world ranking. Arab nations rejoiced as the Kingdom declared the next day a national holiday.

(With inputs from AFP)

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