Meet Jameel, the Saudi Football League’s new showman

The two-meter tall mascot usually enters the pitch minutes before the two teams to greet the fans and lighten-up the atmosphere

Rajia Aboulkheir - Al Arabiya News
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He is dressed in white and green and sports the number 70, Jameel is the new official “character” of the Saudi Premiere League, now referred to as the Abdul Latif Jameel (ALJ) League.

Jameel was created by Spanish designer Sergio Ordonez Suanez, also known as SOS and has made its first appearance at the opening ceremony of this season in Al Nassr vs Najran Match.

“It is the first time in Saudi Arabia and in the Arab world that a football league has its own character,” Mohammed el-Qannas, a Saudi sports critic, told Al Arabiya News.

“Jameel gives a special taste to the tournament and makes it more enjoyable for football supporters,” el-Qannas added.

The two-meter tall mascot usually enters the pitch minutes before the two teams to greet the fans and lighten-up the atmosphere.

But despite his very friendly disguise, Jameel does not speak with players or football fans.

Speaking about the character, a mascot of sorts, an official from the Saudi Premiere League who did not want to be named told Al Arabiya News: “He [Jameel] always carries his football around, gives gifts to the fans and invites people to play with him and cheers for their favorite clubs as a sign of his undying passion for football.

“Jameel’s main priority is to turn the ALJ League into one huge, joyful and unforgettable happy moment and show to the millions of Fans of the GCC and around the World the warmth and spirit of Saudi Arabia’s Football,” the official said.

In recent weeks, Jameel gained more popularity in the stadium pushing officials to create miniature toy versions of the character that are due to be sold during official league games.

“When we go to the stadium, fans and in particular children are very appealed by Jameel,” AbdulMohsen, a Saudi football fan told Al Arabiya News adding that he saw young fans requesting “selfies”.

“It is a new phenomenon for the Kingdom that is definitely getting a lot of attention,” AbdulMohsen added.

Aside from football pitches, the mascot is due to make several appearances in schools, malls and public spaces in the country.

“In the future, Jameel will travel throughout the country, meet kids in the schools to share what he learnt about fair-play, healthy food and an active lifestyle and help with the development of the Saudi Professional League,” the official added.

Football is the de facto national sport of Saudi Arabia and is enormous popular in the kingdom.

The national football team made it to the final of the Asian Cup five times and has won the trophy three times.

The Abdul Latif Jameel League can be followed on MBC Pro ‎Sports after MBC in July won the rights to broadcast the matches for the next 10 years.

At the time, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation issued a statement on MBC attaining the broadcast rights following its alliance with al-Riyadiah channel.

“After reviewing all proposals to sell the broadcast rights, we chose the best one presented from the alliance between the Saudi [al-Riyadiyah] channel and MBC group. The [agreement] is worth 4.1 Saudi billion riyals and is valid for 10 years,” the statement read.

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