PR disaster because of man with whip

Abderrazak Hamdallah (right) was beaten by a man with a whip as he left the square. Image: Reuters

Saudi Arabia wants to polish its image with high investments. One aggressive fan is enough to question all of the desert state’s efforts: he pulls out his knife and castigates a professional soccer player.

In Saudi Arabia they have recently invested a bit in marketing potential, not least with regard to the impact of football. The World Cup is coming in ten years, this week was the first Saudi Super Cup. That means: Four Saudi teams competed in Abu Dhabi. Just foreign marketing.

But what was planned as a week of celebration for Saudi football turned into a PR disaster. In the semi-finals on Monday, Cristiano Ronaldo was thrown off the pitch because of violence.

The Portuguese raised his fist at the referee’s back and then walked away. Or rather: Was trolled. “Messi! “Messi!” shouted the spectators. Maybe funny, maybe kindergarten.

At least harmless compared to the corporal punishment that Abderrazak Hamdallah experienced three days later. The Moroccan had just lost the final with Al-Ittihad against Al-Hilal and was on his way to the dressing room when a spectator standing above shouted something to him.

Published/Updated: Recommendations: 7 Alexis Menuge, Paris Published/Updated: Recommendations: 3 Jürgen Kalwa, New York Published/Updated: Recommendations: 5 A comment from David Lindenfeld Published/Updated: Recommendations: 2

Hamdallah splashed water from the bottle he was holding, the spectator whipped out his whip and struck twice. Clips of it are now going around the world, seen millions of times and shared thousands of times. Even with a lot of money, its effect will be difficult to capture.

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