Complex Made Simple

Is the Saudi vs. Egypt game “worth” watching?

Saudi and Egypt are out of the World Cup, but they are still playing for bragging rights.

What no one knows is, potentially, what kind of money both countries lost.

In fact, their early loss in the World Cup just cost them millions. What is even worse, both countries are spending their cash in the wrong places.

Related: How brands can win over younger FIFA World Cup fans


In case you never heard, participating in a single match during the group stage would net a team $6.5 million. Going any further would potentially earn the Middle Eastern teams at least $10.5m for being in the top 16, which they didn’t make.

While winning the World Cup would have given either Saudi or Egypt approximately $38 m, far from their grasps now.

Is that the only thing the two teams lost?

Not really, Egypt lost their star player, Mohamed Salah.

He lost his morale in the 2nd game vs Uruguay, a fairly small country. Risking a serious injury in this upcoming game isn’t something Salah is willing to do. He decided to be the bench warmer for this game, making sure his ankle stays safe for his continued performance with Liverpool.

Saudi on the other hand are playing in this match simply to get to that 31st spot, an ego boost for the country according to The Guardian.

Read: Germany and Saudi under fire following major losses. What are the odds now?

What went wrong?

Reports from Sun, a UK news source, state that if England were to win the World Cup the players would share a $5m, on top of the $38m, a extra prize money that will be distributed among the team members, equaling around $215,000 for each player.

Did no one inform the Saudi and Egypt players?

We think not. “There’s no clear strategy on how to train the younger generation in these high-income countries,” says the Economist, a data source.

China’s strategy is to have Football taught in 50,000 or so schools by 2025.

Actually, China might try something like “Project 119”, an around-the-clock training scheme for youngsters which helped get China on the top of the medal table at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Countries such as the UAE spent billions of dollars buying top European clubs, hoping to learn from them.

Saudi Arabia is paying to send the Spanish league nine players.

So far, these countries have little to show for their spending.

Both the UAE and China failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup. the latter even lost 1-0 to Syria—a humiliation that provoked street protests.

Related: 7 things you might not know about Saudi’s Football Team


What countries should do to improve their chances in the World Cup is train the younger generation like aforementioned tiny Uruguay.

They can also learn from the previous prodigies which rose from rags-to-riches in their early years from playing street football: Pelé and Diego Maradona to Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Andrés Iniesta.

Of course, all of this starts from a country that should champion football stars from a young age and not try to learn from others’ successes.

More: Why are Saudi’s Green Falcons having such a terrible streak of bad 

So, we found the fool-proof plan

Officials with dreams of winning the World Cup can learn four lessons:

First, encourage children to develop creatively: On their own, not from others.

Second, stop talented teenagers from falling through the cracks: Keep an eye out for the really talented.

Third, make the most of football’s vast global network: keep connections open with other teams.

Lastly, prepare properly for the tournament itself: self-explanatory.