Saudi Football Stadium

The beautiful game

Where to watch football in Saudi

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When it comes to sport in Saudi Arabia, football is the main event. Whether it’s turning out to cheer on a local team, or gathering en masse to watch the World Cup, no sport is more popular. And when it comes to football rankings across the Gulf, Middle East and even Asia, very few countries can match Saudi’s pedigree. Five World Cup appearances as well as three AFC Asian Cup titles in 1984, 1988 and 1996, have confirmed the Kingdom as a leading regional light.

 

The national team’s achievements are in no small part dependent on the continued success of the country’s 16-team domestic football league. Now in its 44th season, the Saudi Professional League has become one of the Middle East’s most respected and sought-after destinations for the continent’s finest players, not to mention many others from Europe, Africa and South America. Over the years, football in Saudi has also attracted some of the most successful Arab and foreign coaches.

 

Al Hilal is currently the country’s - and Asia’s - most decorated club, while other established clubs include Al Nassr, Al Ahli, Al Ittihad, Al Shabab, Al Ittifaq, and Al Qadsiyah, all of which boast rich histories and multiple Saudi Professional League titles.

 

Saudi’s fan culture is also among Asia’s most vibrant, with matches between the top clubs producing sold-out stadiums and an unmissable atmosphere. The derbies between the top clubs in particular bring out the best in fans, with banners and flags adding colour to the deafening noise and all-round spectacle of the game.

 

It speaks to the quality of the country’s stadiums that Europe’s leading clubs have been invited to play prestigious competitions there. King Abdullah Sports City stadium has played host to tournaments including the Italian Super Cup, and is also the new venue for the Spanish Super Cup.

 

But it is the domestic league that is most beloved by Saudis - and football fans from the Gulf and beyond can get in on this can’t-miss experience by catching a game.

 

The season kicks off in August and runs all the way through to May. Match tickets can be bought from the stadium or from several online platforms, including makani.com.sa

 

Ticket prices range from around SAR20 to SAR50 (about US$5.00 to $13.00) for general admission, though hospitality packages can sometimes cost several hundred Saudi riyals.

 

Here’s a rundown of the five biggest clubs in Saudi Arabia, which between them have won 41 of the 44 Saudi Professional League titles that have been contested. 

 

Al Hilal

Established: 1957

League titles: 15

Stadium: King Saud University Stadium, Riyadh

Capacity: 25,000
Nickname: Al Zaeem (The Boss)

 

Al Nasser

Established: 1955

League titles: 9

Stadium: King Fahd International Stadium, Riyadh

Capacity: 62,685

Nickname: Al Aalami (The Global)

 

Al Ittihad 

Established: 1927

League titles: 8

Stadium: King Abdullah Sports City, Jeddah

Capacity: 62,345

Nickname: Al Ameed (The People’s Club)

 

Al Shabab

Established: 1947

League title: 6

Stadium: King Fahd International Stadium, Riyadh

Capacity: 62,685

Nickname: Al Leith (The White Lion)

 

Al Ahli

Established: 1937

League titles: 3

Stadium: King Abdullah Sports City, Jeddah

Capacity: 62,345

Nickname: Al Malaki (The Royal)

 

Al Ittifaq

Established: 1945

League titles: 2

Stadium: Prince Mohamed bin Fahd Stadium

Capacity: 35,000

Nickname: The Knights of Ad Dahna

 

Al Qadsiyah

Established: 1967

League titles: 0

Stadium: Prince Saud bin Jalawi Stadium

Capacity: 15,000

Nickname: Knights of the East

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