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Roberto Mancini risks losing €75m Saudi Arabia job after penalty shootout walkout

Robin Bairner
Roberto Mancini, Saudi Arabia
© IMAGO

Roberto Mancini faces the sack from his role as head coach of the Saudi Arabia national football team as the angry backlash against the former Manchester City boss continues.

Mancini was caught on camera walking away from his team in the midst of their Asian Cup last-16 penalty shootout against South Korea.

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The Koreans still had to convert one kick to seal victory when Mancini marched down the tunnel, leaving his colleagues stunned as the Saudi’s were ultimately eliminated from the competition after a 1-1 draw in which Cho Gue-Sung had levelled for their rivals nine minutes into stoppage-time at the end of the match.

His actions were widely interpreted as disrespectful towards the team, but in the press conference after the game, Mancini claimed: “I thought the penalties were over.”

His excuses, though, have only attracted anger from the Saudi Football Federation.

Yasser-Al-Misehal, the president of the SFF, claimed: “It’s unacceptable: he will have to give us an explanation. We will listen and will make the most appropriate decision.”

Mancini took to X to once again protest his innocence, stating: “I apologise to everyone again. With your support, we will continue to build the future of Saudi football. I thank our brave players. I thank all the away fans. We tried to give our best.”

According to La Repubblica, Mancini’s attitude has frustrated his employers – as well as the leaders of the country as a whole.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman is believed to be furious with the manager, whose apologies have “done nothing but increase the tension”.

Mancini is paid €25 million per year for his role with Saudi Arabia and is under contract until June 2026 with the association, meaning he still has around €60m remaining on his deal, which was initially worth €75m.

He has been in the post since August 2023, but posts a modest record of four wins, three draws and three defeats in the role.

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