Argentina’s football legend, Lionel Messi has been announced as the brand ambassador of the Saudi Tourism Authority.
The news was announced after images arose of the Paris Saint-German (PSG) superstar showing up in Saudi Arabia for the Jeddah Season, which is a 2,800-event art and culture festival.
Messi later shared a sponsored Instagram post from a yacht in the Red Sea with the hashtag ‘#VisitSaudi.‘
Ahmed Al Khateeb, Saudi Arabia’s Tourism Minister, said, “I am pleased to welcome Lionel Messi to Saudi Arabia. We are excited for you to explore the treasure of the Red Sea, the Jeddah Season and our ancient history. This is not his first visit to the Kingdom and it will not be the last.”
When reports of Messi potentially collaborating with Saudi Arabia first emerged, human rights organisation Grant Liberty urged him not to get associated.
A letter written by families of prisoners of conscience in February 2021, read, “You are an inspiration to millions and what you say and do really matters. To put it bluntly – you have enormous power, but with that power comes great responsibility. If you say yes to Visit Saudi you are in effect saying yes to all the human rights abuses that take place today in modern Saudi Arabia.”
It is Messi’s latest collaboration, following a reported US$20 million endorsement deal with the fan token platform, Socios.com for three years.