Ons Jabeur backs Saudi Arabia after criticism from tennis greats

Didier Drogba hails the development of Saudi football, movement of African players to the Kingdom

JEDDAH: Ivorian football legend Didier Drogba has hailed the development of Saudi football, saying the Kingdom can look forward to a “very positive future” after attracting top international players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, as well as African stars Kalidou Koulibaly, Edouard Mendy, Sadio Mane, and others.

The former Chelsea star spoke to Arab News in Jeddah as he watched his Team Drogba at the inaugural UIM E1 World Championship on Feb. 2-3.

The new electric powerboat series features teams that are owned by celebrities such as Tom Brady, whose team won the Jeddah event, Rafa Nadal, Virat Kohli, and Steve Aoki, who heads the Saudi-backed Aoki Racing.

Drogba said: “I think Saudi Arabia is doing a great job in making their football league one of the best 10 leagues in the world. Saudi football is going to evolve and I think it’s on the right path. 

Didier Drogab in Jeddah. (Supplied)

“I’m sure it’s not going to stop here, and I’m sure football in Saudi Arabia has a very positive future. And I know that the football league is going to improve a lot, year on year.”

He praised African players’ move into Saudi football, and added: “I am glad to see my African players playing here and hope (there are) more to come.”

On the subject of powerboats, he said: “This championship and other international events held in Saudi Arabia are just what the vision of the crown prince is all about and I am glad to be part of it.”

Drogba had become far more than just a footballer prior to his retirement from playing, devoting his time to help make a positive impact on the lives of African children.

The UIM E1 World Championship named the Didier Drogba Foundation as its official Social Impact Partner on Friday.

Founded in 2007 and committed to improving the lives of underprivileged children and the young in Africa, the foundation focuses on providing education and healthcare for people affected by poverty, disease and conflict.

Drogba and Gabrielle Lemaire, the vice president of the Didier Drogba Foundation, said: “We are delighted to become E1 Social Impact Partner and join forces to build a better Africa and a better world.

“We are grateful to … the E1 family for their commitment to social impact in Africa, and we are convinced that together we will scale the impact of the Didier Drogba Foundation and bring renewed hope to millions of children that dream for a brighter and better future for Africa.”

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