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Monday 29 January 2024

Messi cashes in with controversial sponsorship deals

There is no doubt that Lionel Messi is one of the finest footballers of all time. 

Messi has starred for Barcelona, Paris St Germain and Argentina, earning multiple trophies, including winning the World Cup in 2022, in which he won a record second Golden Ball, scored seven goals including two in the final, and broke the record for most games played at the World Cup (26)..

But as Messi's career winds down with a spell at Inter Miami, he is raking in money from sponsorships.

Fresh from christening the world’s largest cruise ship, Messi is now fronting the latest Saudi Arabia tourism campaign, which critics say contrasts with his work as UNICEF Goodwill ambassador. 

Messi recently christened Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas, which has been slammed for its size given the cruise industry's long-term goals of sustainability.

Messi, a Saudi Tourism Ambassador on a deal reportedly worth $US25 million, is also the face of the ‘Go Beyond What You Think’ campaign, which is being launched in key target markets in Europe, India and China.

The campaign aims to dispel what is says are misconceptions about Saudi as a destination, and about its culture.

Visitors and Saudi residents are encouraged to share positive experiences and memories on TikTok and social channels using the bi-lingual hashtags #ShareYourSaudi ( #السعودية_بعيون .)

The latest spot in the ‘Saudi Welcome to Arabia’ barnd campaign will air on TV, social, digital channels and OTA activations over a three-month period, Travel Mole reports.

The message is to encourage travellers to "e open-minded to new cultures and destinations, holding an open heart while travelling".

The video showcases Saudi’s diverse locations and terrain and a number of high-profile female achievers are featured including the Saudi women’s national football team and Rayyanah Barnawi, the first Saudi woman in space.

But human rights organisation Amnesty International says: "The reality for people living in Saudi Arabia, is one where their basic human rights are ignored, their freedoms are restricted and punishment is severe."

Messi and his teammates at Inter Miami are in the country to play two games against Saudi clubs this week.   

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