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Fiasco: How Saudi players had a rough time in Spain

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Madrid: Nine Saudi players loaned to Spanish clubs to improve their level before the World Cup left without hardly playing in what ended up as a "fiasco".

"Adapting is difficult," said David Cobeno, sporting director at Madrid-based second division side Rayo Vallecano, which signed 24-year-old Saudi midfielder Abdulmajeed Al-Sulayhem.

"Everything outside of sports, the language, food, the city, that was what was hardest for him," he said.

Al-Sulayhem, who only speaks Arabic, needed to be accompanied at all times by a translator, even during training. He never played in an official match.

A scenario was played out at six other Spanish clubs which took on one or two Saudi players during the winter transfer window under and agreement between La Liga and the Saudi Sports Authority.

The cost of the loans was split between the participating Spanish and Saudi clubs.

The initiative was not popular in either country since the Saudi players -- including several who are part of the Saudi team which will face Russia in the World Cup opening match on Thursday -- hardly got any time on the pitch.

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