As far as dream jobs go, becoming the world’s first “Ronaldo Correspondent” in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, may seem like a niche post but the role is already attracting an inbox full of applications.
Arabian Business, a weekly business magazine published in Dubai, is seeking a reporter to cover the 37-year-old soccer titan’s move to Riyadh-based club Al Nassr Tuesday, in a record $214 million a year deal. The two-year contract makes Ronaldo the highest paid athlete in the world and Arabian Business plans to chart the highs and lows of his next chapter.
“Arabian Business is committed to covering the biggest stories in the Middle East, and nothing is bigger than Ronaldo’s move to Saudi Arabia,” says Matthew Amlot, the publication’s managing editor. “We’re looking for a young, dynamic reporter who can help us train the spotlight on what the football megastar’s move means for Saudi Arabia, the Arabian Gulf, and the Middle East,” Amlot added, noting that they have received over 1,000 applicants in the past 24 hours from applicants around the world.
In the job listing, Amlot said that the demanding full-time role would cover all matches at Al Nassr, as well as media and commercial-related events. The reporter’s remit will also include daily updates about Ronaldo as he settles into his new life in Saudi Arabia.
Ronaldo’s move to Al Nassr has been criticized. But the transfer dovetails with Saudi Arabia’s plans to encourage sport in the kingdom. Under Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom has pushed to reduced its dependence on oil and liberalize social mores—even as it increasingly cracks down on dissent.
The deal has already sparked a huge wave of attention on Al Nassr. The team’s number of Instagram followers has ballooned to around 9 million, from below 1 million prior to news that Ronaldo joined the team.
Ronaldo arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday, where he completed a medical assessment ahead of his official presentation the next day. Greeted by a crowd of 25,000 people at Mrsool Park in Riyadh, the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star also spoke about his upcoming prospects at a press conference.
“I feel so proud to make this big decision in my life,” Ronaldo told his new home supporters. “In Europe, my work is done. I won everything and now this is a new challenge. I’m grateful Al Nassr have given me this opportunity, not only for the football but for the young generation and the female generation.”
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner brings a host of sporting accolades to Al Nassr, a team that was established in 1955 in the Saudi capital. Al Nassr plays in the country’s top division—the Saudi Professional League (SPL)—which consists of 18 teams. Al Nassr ranks second in the SPL with nine titles, behind Al Hilal, another Riyadh based team, who have won 18 titles.
During Tuesday’s press conference, Ronaldo acknowledged that his lucrative contract is unique but added, “I’m a unique player, so for me it’s normal. I really don’t worry about what people say. I am really, really happy to be here.”
Ronaldo departed Manchester United on acrimonious terms in November, just days after delivering an explosive interview where he said he felt betrayed by the Old Trafford club and did not respect Erik ten Hag, the team’s Dutch manager. More awkwardly, Ronaldo told interview host Piers Morgan he was right for saying it was not just about money for the soccer player or else he would be in Saudi Arabia earning “the King’s ransom.”
Ronaldo is expected to make his Al Nassr debut either on Thursday during the team’s match against Saudi Pro-League club Al-Tai or on Saturday against Al Shabab. Millions of eyes will be fixed on Ronaldo during his first match, which will leave Arabian Business’s correspondent with a strong first assignment on their hands—if the publication can sift through applicants soon enough.