PHOTOS: PM Barzani receives Al-Ittihad Club delegation
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Sunday received a delegation from Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ittihad Club, among them the illustrious footballers Karim Benzema and N'Golo Kanté.
Al-Ittihad will face Iraq's Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya in the fourth round of the AFC Champions League at Franso Hariri Stadium on Monday night.
Benzema, 35, is a French striker who previously played for Real Madrid. He is known for his prolific goal-scoring ability, having scored 444 times over 831 appearances.
Kanté, 32, is a French midfielder who formerly played for Chelsea F.C. He is known for his defensive style of play and has been praised for his intelligence, work rate, and tackling ability. Kanté was named in the FIFA FIFPro World XI in 2017 and 2018.
Benzema started his career at Lyon, before transferring to Real Madrid in 2009, where he would spend the next 13 years winning several La Liga titles and awards with the club, and cementing himself as one of the greatest strikers in the history of the sport.
The crown jewel of his career, however, is the Ballon d'Or he received in 2022.
Born to Algerian parents in France, the striker has often feuded with the French Football Federation (FFF) and coach Didier Deschamps. Notably, Benzema had been left off both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup squads, although the latter has been attributed to his injuries by some.
Benzema transferred from Real Madrid to Al-Ittihad in the summer of 2023, and he became the latest prize of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s sport investment initiative, with a sovereign wealth fund worth over $700 billion.
The practice, criticized as ‘Sportswashing’, has thus far been successful in luring other soccer brand names, such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.
Al-Ittihad was founded in 1927 in Jeddah. It has played its entire history in the Saudi Pro League, the top soccer division in the country.
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