Los 40 USA
NewslettersSign in to commentAPP
spainSPAINchileCHILEcolombiaCOLOMBIAusaUSAmexicoMEXICOlatin usaLATIN USAamericaAMERICA


Who are Saudi Arabian side, Al Ittihad? Karim Benzema reportedly set to leave Real Madrid

Karim Benzema’s reported destination is one of Saudi Arabia’s most historic clubs, with 9 league titles won since 1927.

Karim Benzema’s reported destination is one of Saudi Arabia’s most historic clubs, with 9 league titles won since 1927.

In this day and age, a simple yet cryptic post to a social media channel is all it takes to cause richter scales to wobbles and geiger counters to start: tick, tick, tick. For-now-Real-Madrid-footballer, Karim Benzema, posted a story from French ESPN journalist, Julien Laurens, which said: “the goals, the trophies, the style, the legacy: one of the greatest ever.Meltdown incoming.

It was enough and being honest, it was not all that lit up the exit lights along the cabin floor as the air turned into turbulence that rocked everyone in an instant: the same journalist also posted a tweet (that’s on Twitter), saying “Karim Benzema has decided to leave Real Madrid after 14 years and 25 trophies including 5 Champions Leagues. His legacy is immense. An incredible person and an incredible player. One of the greatest ever.” Now that’s more of a clue.

Karim Benzema set to leave Real Madrid in the summer
Full screen
All roads seem to point towards an exit for the Frenchman.JESUS ALVAREZ ORIHUELADiarioAS

Al Ittihad are Saudi Arabia’s oldest team

The French striker and current holder of the Ballon d’Or may leave Real Madrid and, like many of his elite colleagues across the world, would join them in taking the leap to the middle-east, where everything is lovely if you’re a multi-million dollar football superstar and not a woman or a gay man. But who are Al Ittihad, the team that are reportedly set to sign the striker? Well, it’s lucky you’re here:

The strange world of monied football in countries which have recently attracted ageing talent from the most successful teams in the world is stunning in its intrigue. Al Ittihad, based in the Saudi City of Jeddah in the Mecca region, were founded on December 26 1929, preceding the creation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by five years, and the club name means ‘The Union’ in Arabic. Footballhistory.org says that the reason for the formation of the club was simply “to provide entertainment to the people of Jeddah”. Delightful. The stadium of ‘The Tigers’, as they are known, is called the King Abdullah Sports City, and holds over 62,000 fans.

What trophies have Al Ittihad won?

The club competed in the regional divisions until the formation of the Saudi Professional League in 1976, and Al-Ittihad was one of 16 teams to take part in the inaugural season, winning their first title in 1982.

Before that, however, they did compete in the national King’s Cup, giving rise to a rivalry against Riyadh-based side, Al Hilal, now known as El Clásico. At the turn of the century the club became of one the most successful in the country, winning five league titles between 1997 and 2003, with Bebeto as the superstar of the XI.

Despite this success, their most significant achievement as a club did not come domestically, but on the continent. Al Ittihad went through a golden period and won two straight AFC Champions League titles in 2004 and 2005 and they even tried to sign Luis Figo during this time, but were unsuccessful. Their most recent success came in in 2013 and 2018, where they won the King’s Cup. Benzema, it’s your choice...

Al Ittihad trophies:

  • AFC Champions League: 2
  • Asian Cup Winners' Cup: 1
  • Saudi Professional League: 8
  • Kings Cup: 9
  • Crown Prince Cup: 8