During the first semi-final of the Spanish Super Cup, Real Madrid triumphed over Atletico with a decisive 5-3 victory. However, Saudi fans showed their displeasure towards midfielder Toni Kroos, by booing him every time he touched the ball. This backlash hails from comments made by the German footballer months ago, when he insinuated that football in Saudi Arabia was more about money than passion.
As reported by Sports Illustrated, Kroos’ comments included: “They talk about playing ambitious football, but it’s all about money. Going to Saudi Arabia is a decision made solely for money and against football. I understand players like Cristiano, who has done so in the later part of his career. But it becomes very difficult to accept the choice of those who are in the midst of their career and have enough quality to play in the best clubs in Europe.”
Clearly, these critical words have struck a chord with fans and people involved in football in Saudi Arabia. Kroos was booed on that semi-final night and will likely face a similar reception in the final.
Following the match, Kroos tweeted about the incident, playing it down with humour, saying he found the boos “fun” and calling the fans “incredible”. He added, he did not understand why they were booing.
The story unfolded during one of Spain’s most-watched football events, and the reaction of the Saudi fans illustrates the global reach and the sentimentality involved in the sport.