How star players will make Euro 2024 a hit with Saudi Fans

With the Saudi Pro League drawing to a close and capping off a season featuring more star names than many would have imagined a few years ago, many could be forgiven for thinking that that’s it for football for a while. But while the 2024 Euros won’t feature the Al-Suqour Al-Khodhur, research from Footballco shows that young fans are just as excited as their European counterparts.

Footballco counts global football media brand GOAL, and Kooora, the number one sports platform in the Arab world, among its portfolio and works with brands to reach fans through football. Part of this includes fan insights from its research division, which recently surveyed fans across Europe and the Middle East to gauge their excitement and get insight into their preferences ahead of this Summer’s tournament.

The results showed that young Saudi fans are rewriting the rulebook on what it means to be a football fan. They’re consuming football through more touchpoints and following players based on entertainment rather than club or country.

This isn’t to say that fans in Saudi Arabia aren’t loyal to their clubs, they are. But young fans in the Kingdom are more likely to follow players over teams than fans across Europe where club allegiance is more expected and ingrained in historic norms. In the Footballco research 38 per cent of Gen-Z Saudi fans identified as player-first fans, compared to 29 per cent of global fans.

For many young Saudi fans, the star power of European tournaments, whether that’s the UEFA Champions League or the European Championships, is what draws them in. They’re not looking for national representation, instead, they want to see the likes of Ronaldo, Bellingham and Mbappe light up the pitch.

Fans expect to watch as much of the Euros as possible. 69 per cent of fans say they’re planning to watch as many games as they can, which is higher than the 57 per cent of fans in Europe who said the same.

However, their focus on the stars means if the biggest players fail to progress, interest could wane. Fortunately, the two players Saudi fans want to watch the most are Al-Nassr’s Cristiano Ronaldo and PSG’s Kylian Mbappe. With Portugal and France expected to progress far in the tournament, there should be plenty of matches to keep fans engaged.

Watching as much of the Euros as possible is made possible by the Euros being held in Germany, with a mere one-hour time difference between both countries.

However, even without a favourable timezone, allowing games to be watched day and night, Saudi fans would still expect to be glued to the Euros, with 35 per cent saying that if they weren’t able to watch games live it wouldn’t effect their enjoyment of the tournament. That’s because Saudi fans, especially young ones, have diversified their football consumption, participating through social media, chat groups and playing video games like EA’s FC 24.

Watching on TV is still the preferred platform of choice for young fans, with 44 per cent listing it as one of the most enjoyable ways to consume the Euros, but that’s considerably lower than the 57 per cent of fans 35+ who said the same.


Andy Jackson, VP of global football partnerships for Footballco, has worked with numerous rights holders in Saudi Arabia and said: “There has rightly been a lot of attention on the growth of football in Saudi Arabia, both in terms of the domestic league and the success of the international team. But I believe that can mask fans' passion for the biggest players and tournaments outside of the Kingdom.

“Aside from the World Cup, no other tournament has the star power of the Euros and we’re seeing young Saudi fans being drawn to this more and more.

While we know Ronaldo will be the focus for many Saudi fans, we know they’re also a fanbase most likely to support multiple club teams, many of whom will have players at the Euros. This should mean that even if Ronaldo and Portugal don’t progress beyond the group stage, Saudi fans will follow their club heroes, whether they play for Real Madrid, PSG or a Saudi Pro League team.”


Ziad Khammar, COO at DMS said: "Football has become a vital part of life in the MENA region, especially in Saudi Arabia, where the enthusiasm among young fans is extraordinary.

Gen Z fans in Saudi Arabia are not just watching football; they're experiencing it through social media, digital platforms, and interactive content.

Platforms like those from Footballco (KOOORA & GOAL) play a crucial role in this ecosystem, offering brands an incredible opportunity to connect with this passionate audience in innovative ways.

By leveraging these new forms of media consumption,brands can create authentic connections and engage with Saudi fans like never before."