The footballers from Saudi Arabia have surprisingly won the World Cup against Argentina with a score of 2 to 1. However, the joy over this is really about the money.
That football has ‘no significance at all’ in the Gulf states, is one of the many misconceptions about the World Cup, which is currently being held in Qatar by the world football association FIFA.
The emirate’s rulers, the Al Thani family, were not the only ones to make this point impressively clear at the opening ceremony with previously unpublished video footage showing the football enthusiasm of the emir’s father himself.
The first sporting surprise of this year’s World Cup, Saudi Arabia’s victory over Argentina’s soccer team – with star player Lionel Messi – is where the Gulf region’s enthusiasm for soccer really comes to the fore.
After the triumph, not only did videos of cheering football fans in front of televisions and the usual noisy motorcades with flags do the rounds in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but also the Saudi King Salman Al Saud immediately spoke out.
According to official sources, he simply declared that last Wednesday was a national holiday.
All employees in the public and private sectors will be given time off work to mark the historic victory of the Saudi national soccer team against Argentina, it was announced. Pupils and students at all levels of education would also be excused from school or university by royal decree.
The decision on the ‘Green Falcons’ was coordinated with the crown prince and prime minister of the kingdom, Mohammed bin Salman, the actual leader of the country, it was added.
How great the enthusiasm for the historic victory and for football in general is, muula.ch can illustrate by looking at the cost of the decision. We are looking at the gross domestic product GDP of Saudi Arabia.
This year, the International Monetary Fund IMF expects the kingdom’s GDP to be around $1,500 billion, due to increased oil revenues.
A down day, as King Salman has now decreed, would come to 4.1 billion dollars. In 2021, the GDP was still around 833 billion dollars, and an extraordinary vacation would still result in losses of around 2.3 billion dollars.
Nothing too expensive
Certainly, the decision does not bring the entire kingdom to a standstill. However, the oil continues to gush at the state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco. And in many places, such as hospitals, airports and restaurants, that GDP is still being earned by workers even on holidays.
However, the rough calculation clearly illustrates the scope of the decision.
Switzerland versus Brazil
For Switzerland, which has a GDP of around 820 billion dollars, such a measure to celebrate would be unthinkable anyway. Federal President Ignazio Cassis has no such far-reaching powers.
And until the Swiss World Cup match against Cameroon on Thursday or until Switzerland’s match against the soccer nation Brazil next Monday, the Swiss Confederation will not be able to hold a referendum for a day off to celebrate a possible historic victory.
The issue is therefore dead in the water, at least in this country.
However, a completely different football match is likely to be historic anyway. It’s about the match between the hostile nations U.S.A. and Iran, which will take place next Tuesday.
The joy of a possible historic victory, at least in football, is likely to prove costly for the winner if he is to express his enthusiasm in a properly publicized manner.
In any case, Saudi King Salman has set the bar quite high for such jubilant celebrations.