Saudi Arabia is a country located in the Middle East. Apart from being the birthplace of the Islamic religion, the big gulf state is also a regional and economic powerhouse. It’s also known for its huge crude oil production. Sports are an important pass time for a lot of Saudis, with football being the number game in the country. The beautiful game enjoys a lot of investment and followership in this oil-rich. Read on as we list some facts about football in Saudi Arabia.
1. Football Origins
Football began to gain prominence in Saudi Arabia in the 1950s. In 1956, the Saudi Arabian football governing body called the Saudi Arabian Football Federation was established, joining FIFA the same year. They are also affiliated to the Asian Football Confederation.
2. Men’s National Team
The Saudi Arabian senior football national team is also known as The Falcons. They are one of the most successful teams in Asia. The nickname of the Saudi Arabian men’s national team are Al-Suqour (The Falcons) and Al-Akhdhar (The Green). They will be competing in the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup this year.
3. First International Match
The first official match played by Saudi Arabia was in 1957, an international friendly game against hosts Lebanon. The match ended 1-1.
4. Biggest Win
Saudi Arabia recorded their biggest win on November 17th, 2015, when they defeated Timor-Leste by 10-0
5. Biggest Defeat
Saudi Arabia’s worst defeat occurred on the 3rd of September, 1961, when the Falcons suffered a humiliating 13-0 loss to hosts Morocco.
6. Most Capped Player
Former Saudi Arabian goalkeeper Mohamed Abdullaziz Al-Deayea is the senior national team’s most capped player with about 178 appearances over a 13-year period between 1993-2006.
7. All-time Highest Goal Scorer
The Falcons’ highest goal scorer is Majed Abdullah. The former Saudi Arabian striker scored 72 goals in 117 appearances in a career that spanned 17 years between 1977-1994.
8. World Cup Appearances
The Falcons first qualified for the FIFA World Cup in 1994 hosted by USA, where they got to the round of 16. The Saudis qualified four more times for the tournaments in 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2018. USA 94 is still their best performance.
9. International Success
Saudi Arabia has won the Asian Cup three times in 1984, 1988, and 1996.
10. Professional League
The premier league in Saudi Arabia is known as the Saudi Professional League. It was established in 1976. The current league defending champions are Al-Hilal, who are in turn the most successful team in the country with 16 league titles. Al-Hilal is also one of the successful football clubs in Asia.
11. Women’s Football League
History was made on December 2020 when the Saudi Arabian Women’s League was officially launched. A huge feat for women in a conservative country such as Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Sports for All Federation established the first nation-wide women’s football league in three major cities: Dammam, Riyadh, and Jeddah.