Karim Benzema's Al-Ittihad move could be threatened by Saudi Pro League side's 'non-payment of wages'

Karim Benzema's Al-Ittihad move could be threatened by Saudi Pro League side's 'non-payment of wages'
2 min read
21 June, 2023
Al-Ittihad shocked the footballing world with their signing of Karim Benzema from Real Madrid, but could a dispute the club has with an ex-player now disrupt the mega-deal?
Karim Benzema signed for Al-Ittihad in a $208 million per-year deal [Getty]

Saudi football club Al-Ittihad's high-profile signing of former Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema could be under threat as the club faces sanctions from the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the kingdom's football association.

The Jeddah team face issues with Benzema's registration following a dispute between the club and former player Abdulrahman al-Ghamdi, according to reports in Saudi media.

Al-Ghamdi is owed 3 million riyals ($800,000) in past wages by Al-Ittihad, the committee ruled. 

 

However, the committee also ruled that if the payment is not made within 30 days, the club might not be able to register any new first team player contracts. This would not only be a blow to Al-Ittihad regarding the Benzema deal but also for the recent signing of World Cup-winning Frenchman N’Golo Kante

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Benzema signed a contract worth a whopping $218 million per-year (£172 million), while Kante will earn $109 million (£86 million), yet the Saudi side apparently refused to pay roughly the equivalent of $500,000 in two years of backpay to Al-Ghamdi. 

Despite the huge amounts of wealth available to the top four Saudi clubs, contract disputes over non-payment of wages are common in Saudi football, according to a recent report by The Athletic.  Saudi clubs, including Cristiano Ronaldo’s club Al-Nassr, have been involved in countless disputes over the non-payment of wages. 

Such issues usually affect Saudi players or low-profile foreign signings. 

The New Arab reached out to Al-Ittihad for comment, but received no reply at the time of publication