One of the most famous sportsmen in the world has promoted the Saudi-backed esports event in a surprise, and somewhat late, promotional tweet.
Portuguese football player Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the most famous sporting figures in the world, yesterday (Sunday, July 23) tweeted his support for the Gamers8 esports festival in a promotional message.
Promotional Tweets from celebrities are nothing surprising. But the magnitude of Ronaldo’s celebrity, and the connection between Gamers8 and the star’s new Saudi Arabian team, Al Nassr, is most definitely newsworthy.
In the tweet, Ronaldo belatedly put out the call to “all gamers!” to not miss the Gamers8 esports festival, which is taking place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The event started on July 6, over two and a half weeks ago. However, it will continue until August 31.
Why is Ronaldo tweeting about esports?
Just why is Ronaldo tweeting about esports? The simple answer is: Because his current team is owned by the same people as Gamers8.
The Gamers8 event is organized by the Saudi Esports Federation. This organization is reportedly funded in-part by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF), the sovereign wealth fund of the country, which has a total estimated assets of close to $700 billion.
PIF was also the financial backer of the Savvy Gaming Group, the banner under which Saudi Arabia acquired esports tournament organizer ESL for $1 billion. ESL were the organizers and operators of DreamLeague Season 19 and Season 20, the qualifying events for the Riyadh Masters. That event, an on-going Dota 2 tournament under the Gamers8 banner, has a $15 million prize pool that’s part of the “staggering prize” detailed in Ronaldo’s post.
And beyond esports, the PIF has heavily invested in numerous sports clubs around the world and within Saudi Arabia. The PIF owns an owns an 80 percent stake in English Premier League team Newcastle United. But perhaps more relevantly, owns a 75 percent stake in Al-Nassr, Cristiano Ronaldo’s current team. In fact, the PIF has a 75 percent ownership of multiple teams in the Saudi Arabian Pro League (SPL), including Al Hilal SFC, Al Ahli Saudi FC, and Al-Ittihad Club (Jeddah). A league Ronaldo recently went on record as saying "is better than MLS."
So ultimately, it would be a fair (but unconfirmed) assumption to believe Cristiano is posting about esports as part of his contractual deal. Whether we see Al-Nassr’s star player continue his burgeoning support of esports remains to be seen.
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