Dakar Rally race village gets fans in Jeddah revved up for start of the 2020 event

JEDDAH: Valencia are hoping to open their own football academy in Saudi Arabia, Anil Murthy, club president, said on Tuesday.

Murthy expressed his admiration for Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA), after the prince spoke about his vision for sports and the development of young Saudis during his recent visit in Spain.

“Therefore, it is our duty to reach those young Saudis and hopefully soon we will plan to open our own football academy here in Saudi Arabia and reach those talented Saudi players, in addition to increasing the popularity of Valencia among Saudi fans who are known for their passion for football,” Murthy said.

Murthy was speaking ahead of the Spanish club’s semifinal match against Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup on Wednesday at King Abdullah Al-Jawhara International Stadium.

“We do appreciate the great hospitality of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since we arrived, and we are really looking forward to playing in front of Saudi fans here,” Murthy said.

Murthy and the Valencia delegation arrived in Jeddah on Monday night.

Since he joined the club a little over two years ago, Valencia’s 46-year-old Singaporean president said that he has been focused on a strategy that prioritizes growth at home and abroad.

Murthy warned that the club needed to remain sustainable in the long-term by working within its “limitations and constraints.”

“We don’t have a lot of money like other clubs to buy the best players in the world but we put our resources in the best place. We invest mostly in young players because we know these players are the future of the club and this is what keeps the club stable. This is our value,” he said.

“We must build a club structure which works and which is sustainable. Not for one season, but for many years to come. That is the ultimate goal.”

“Clubs who only work for the short term often end up suffering because of financial difficulties.”

Of the death threats he received as the president of Valencia, Murthy said: “Yes, it happened but this can happen from criminals and they are a minority. The only way to solve this issue, we expelled the violent from the stadium and things are now OK.”

Murthy hopes to beat Real Madrid and reach the final match of the Spanish Super Cup against the winner of the Barcelona-Atletico Madrid semifinal, and win it with the support of Valencia’s fans in Saudi Arabia.

Prior to his role at Valencia, Murthy was a diplomat with the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs, specializing in European affairs. He was deputy chief of mission in Paris and concurrently permanent delegate to UNESCO for four years. He has nearly 16 years of experience with the Singapore government, advising ministers on public policies ranging from trade to culture and diplomacy.