Steven Gerrard

The two-year contract was signed yesterday in London, the club said in a statement, without giving financial details.

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ettifaq soccer club has named former England and Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard as its new manager, the latest high-profile signing from the kingdom.

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The two-year contract was signed on 3rd July in London. The club said in a statement, without giving financial details. Gerrard is joining a soccer league that has already signed stars from Cristiano Ronaldo to Karim Benzema in recent months, in a bid to raise his profile globally.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which manages some $700 billion in assets, has recently taken on a bigger role in the Saudi league, acquiring majority stakes in four of the biggest clubs. The state oil company Aramco took over another club at the same time. The government wants to quadruple the league’s annual revenue to $480 million by 2030.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has made sports a key part of his strategy to diversify the economy, improve the kingdom’s image internationally, and catalyze tourism growth. Saudi Arabia is considering a joint bid to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup, a tournament that was recently held in neighboring Qatar. It has also earmarked billions to expand into everything from golf to Formula 1 to boxing matches.

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