Cristiano Ronaldo has reportedly rejected a huge financial offer from Saudi Arabia to be the face of their latest tourism drive.
The Juventus icon, who became football’s all-time leading goalscorer in official games with his 760th strike last week, was offered a commercial deal worth around £5.3million per year, according to The Telegraph.
Ronaldo is reported to have rejected the offer, whilst it is claimed Lionel Messi has also been approached.
Representatives of Messi told The Telegraph they do not comment on commercial projects and did not confirm he had been approached for the role, whilst Ronaldo’s representatives also declined to comment.
The two superstars, considered by many to be football’s greatest ever players and with 11 Ballon d’Or awards between them, are amongst the most marketable individuals on the planet.
They have a host of huge commercial deals with global brands and have been targeted by Saudi Arabia for a campaign due to start next month pushing the “Visit Saudi” campaign to establish themselves as a tourist destination.
It is claimed the deal would include the player visiting Saudi and being used in all promotional material.
However, the country has been involved in an ongoing international controversy over its human rights record and endorsing their regime would leave those involved open to criticism.
Saudi Arabia has been accused of human rights violations and criticised for its role in the war in Yemen.
Sport has been used by the country to try and showcase itself, with Jeddah hosting the Spanish Super Cup last January and Messi featuring in an expanded mini-tournament.
Messi played for Argentina against Brazil in Riyadh in 2019, whilst Anthony Joshua was criticised when he fought Andy Ruiz Jr in the same city in December 2019.
Amnesty International recently criticised Formula One after agreeing to host a Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia.
Last year, the efforts of the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF) to takeover 80% of Newcastle United was blocked by the Premier League.