In an interview with CNN’s Eleni Giokos, Saudi Pro League Chief Operating Officer Carlo Nohra said that Saudi Arabia’s involvement in world football isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

The COO told Giokos, “We’ve just opened a new channel for players that didn’t exist. And why can it not be in the Middle East? Why can it not be in Saudi Arabia? Why does it have to be exclusively in Europe? We are challenging the status quo.”

Nohra compared the growth of the Saudi Pro League to others around the world saying, “Other leagues have been through the same thing, MLS comes to mind. It’s taken them many years, and they have evolved over time. And it will be exactly the same journey for us.”

Nohra’s comments come as the summer spending spree in Saudi Arabian football continued on Tuesday with the arrival of Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain, adding to the league’s burgeoning star-studded line-up. Another star to join the league in early 2023 was Cristiano Ronaldo. Nohra said of Ronaldo’s signing, “It’s great to have him in the league. When a name like that becomes available on the market, you have to pounce. You’re not going to get one of the greatest of all time available every season or every week.”

Speaking in Riyadh, Nohra also outlined the league’s objectives as it seeks to become one of the top 10 leagues in world football in the next 5-10 years, “The objectives that we were given were to improve on-pitch performance with world-class players involved. To increase the number of attendees at the match and therefore maximise utilisation. And to drive the commercialisation of the league through the assets that we control, mainly broadcast, commercial, merchandising. And combining all those three then to move ourselves up the league ladder to become one of the respected top 10 leagues in the world.”

The full interview with Carlo Nohra airs on CNN’s Marketplace Middle East on Saturday 2nd September