Dubai: It costs a pretty penny to watch Floyd Mayweather fight, hear Max Verstappen scream down the finish line and take the checkered flag or see Novak Djokovic glide around the hallowed turf of Wimbledon. Paying well above the odds to attend major international sporting events may not be a problem for those blessed with deep pockets. But football fans are currently battling it out for a ‘Beyond imagination’ match ticket to watch Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and other stars of the game play in the Riyadh Season Cup on January 19 at the King Fahd Stadium, Riyadh. And, the bidding has reached a colossal SR 9.3 million ($2.5 million).
Bid reaches SR 9.3 million to watch Ronaldo, Messi, Mbappe, Neymar
Mega bucks just for a football match?
Turki Al-Sheikh, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority, said two million requests to purchase tickets were recorded on the first day of the auction on Monday January 9. Football fans are desperate to win this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch the legends of the game and clearly they are willing to pay big money for it. Al-Sheikh kicked off the auction at SR 1 million ($266,000) and today posted on Twitter that the current highest bid was made by Saudi Arabian businessman Mohammed Al-Munajem, owner of Azom tech company. Al-Sheikh also posted a video giving details of what the winning bidder for the ticket will get for their money. The 79-second clip has been viewed more than 4 million times.
The 5 most expensive tickets ever bought for a sporting event:
5 – Lakers vs Celtics: $167,146
True basketball fans know all about the rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics in the National Basketball Association but to watch these two sides playing against each other live costs mega bucks. One of the greatest matches between them was at 2010 NBA final where the Lakers beat the Celtics and fans paid a maximum of $167,146 for tickets to the final.
4 – Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor: $157,700
This was called The Money Fight as huge revenues were generated from the pay per view sales but ticket sales for the bout went through the roof. The maximum price for a single ticket in the premium spots of T-Mobile Arena, Paradise, Nevada was $157,700.
3 – Baltimore Ravens vs San Francisco 49ers: $175,560
Baltimore Ravens faced San Francisco 49ers in the 2013 NFL final at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans and tickets for the match fetched a whopping $175,560.
2 – Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors: $194,232
In 2017 NBA fans saw one of the best basketball matches ever when the Cleveland Cavaliers took on Golden State Warriors in the final. The rivalry between the two franchises have always been the part of headline which is why fans were prepared to pay $194,232 for tickets.
1 – Chicago Cubs vs Cleveland Indians: $1.17 Million
The 2016 Major League Baseball World Series final was played between Chicago Clubs and Cleveland Indians and after 108 years, Chicago won. Some of the tickets were sold at the stunning price of $1.17 million.
When will Messi, Ronaldo retire?
The big question is how much longer will Messi and Ronaldo play for and when will they retire? When a footballer passes age the of 30, it is usually not long before their playing days begin to wind down, such is the physical and mental demand of playing the game. Ronaldo crossed into his thirties in 2015 and Messi followed him into that twilight zone two years later in 2017. They are both in their late 30s but continue to bedazzle at the highest level. There has been little sign of either slowing down dramatically. But there will be a time when they can no longer do the business and will have to call it a day. Therefore, fans are eager to pay above the odds to see them while they’re still leaving defenders for dead and scoring from impossible angles.
With the auction for the ticket set to end on January 17, the winning offer could reach double the current SR 9.3 million. It is already the most expensive ticket for a sports event in the world. For this sort of money you would be forgiven for thinking that the ticket would allow you to move in and live with Ronaldo or Messi. That is not going to happen, so what can the winner expect for his/her huge outlay?
Lucky fan can meet the players
Well, as you would expect, they will get far more than just being able to watch the Riyadh Season Cup action – which will see an all-star team made up of Saudi Pro League clubs Al Nassr and Al Hilal take on French Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain. They will get to meet all of the star players including Ronaldo who recently signed for Al Nassr for a whopping $207 million a year deal and Messi who is fresh from winning the FIFA World Cup in Qatar with his country Argentina. For some football mad fans, this alone is worth spending millions on. But the golden ticket offers them even more than that which explains the mad scramble for it.
What you get with the 'Beyond Imagination' ticket
1. Attend the opening ceremony
2. Sit next to Turki Al Sheikh, Chairman of General Entertainment Authority (GEA)
3. Meet Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, and Mbappé
4. Attend the Gala lunch
5. Gain entrance to both locker rooms
6. Participate in the crowning ceremony and take part in the group photo with the winning team
Money to be donated to charity
They will be able to take part in the post-match presentation ceremony and appear with the winning team in their official team photo. That’s not all. The steep-priced-ticket will also allow them to attend the opening ceremony, enter both dressing rooms and attend a gala lunch. It sure is an enticing prospect but perhaps best of all is the fact the buyer’s money will be donated to the Ehsan charity foundation.
Ronaldo can change Saudi football forever
This is the chance to watch two of football’s all-time greats, Ronaldo and Messi, who will face-off against each other for what could be the last time on the pitch. There have been countless epic battles between the two superstars who have entertained the world with their incredible skill. The debate over who’s better has been going on for two decades and may have just come to a close in Qatar with Messi holding aloft the FIFA World Cup. It is the only trophy missing from Ronaldo’s cabinet.
Messi won 10 La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey titles, three UEFA Super Cup titles, three FIFA Club World Cup trophies and four UEFA Champions League titles for La Liga team FC Barcelona. It was during his almost 18-year-long career with the Catalan side that he also won a record six European Golden Shoe awards. He has been playing for PSG since mid-2021 and won the French league in the 2021-22 season and added the Trophée des Champions, also known as French Super Cup, to his cabinet in 2022.
Ronaldo has won seven league cups in three different leagues. He is the first footballer in history to win league cups in the Premier League, the La Liga league and Serie A. He has also won five UEFA Champions League titles, three UEFA Super Cup championships, four FIFA Club World Cup trophies, one English FA Cup, and one Italian Cup. He also has two trophies for each of the Spanish Cup, English League Cup, Spanish Super Cup, Italian Super Cup and English Super Cup. He has won the European Golden Shoe award four times — once while he was with Manchester United and three times while at Real Madrid.
But even though Messi has done what Ronaldo couldn’t, the GOAT debate for some has still not been settled. Both players have won every major trophy at club level but the Argentinian now has a World Cup on his CV, and this will hurt five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo.
Now the pair are set to face-off in Riyadh and with their careers nearing an end, fans of the beautiful game are desperate to see them in the flesh by gaining incredible access to their heroes before they hang up their boots.