Yannick Carrasco on Saudi Arabian human rights abuses – ‘I’ve didn’t see anything when I was there’

Former Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco has admitted that he has moved to Saudi Arabian side Al Shabab for the money, at least in part. He also dismissed the idea that there were human rights abuses or a lack of freedom in the country.

Carrasco penned an open letter to Atletico Madrid fans on his Instagram he thanked the fans for embracing him, noting that they had helped him to grow as a player and a person.

Returning to Europe to take part in Belgium’s upcoming international fixtures, Carrasco told the media he had deliberately asked to be put up for the press conference on order to explain his decision.

“I’m getting older. I like adventures. It’s enriching for human beings to discover new leagues, new cultures,” he told RTBF.

Following Jordan Henderson’s interview with the Athletic, where he maintained that he did not move for the money, and that it didn’t make his support of LGBTQIA+ groups hypocritical, Carrasco responded to the idea that he had moved for money. He was honest about his intentions.

“You have to put yourself in the position of a player sometimes. I’m 30 years old, it was my last year of contract at Madrid. I had a concrete offer, it [Al Shabab’s] was the only one. I opted for security. Is it a financial choice? Everything goes together: being a footballer is a job. We have to think twice. If there is an injury, it can get difficult, especially since we play a lot of matches.”

“We are sometimes afraid of getting injured and in these cases, we do not play relaxed. A player must be mentally freed. It was not easy to make the decision, I am towards at the end of my career. I still have the qualities to play for a big club but if there is an injury, it can quickly change. It’s safety above all else.”

🎙️| Yannick Carrasco: “Atlético is not a selling club, Cholo Simeone wanted me to stay.” pic.twitter.com/cxFxvoYiTF

— Atletico Universe (@atletiuniverse) September 7, 2023

Carrasco was also asked about the dreadful human rights record in Saudi Arabia, where people can be executed for their sexuality, and a journalists have been murdered by the Saudi regime. However the Belgian didn’t see anything with his own eyes during the 48 hours he was in Saudi Arabia.

“Human rights violated in Saudi Arabia? I don’t support what the organisations are saying. I see that Cristiano Ronaldo and his wife normally live there. The other players too.”

“I was there, I saw what the women are like there, how people walk around. Honestly, it’s a beautiful country. I didn’t see anything special regarding the subject when I went there.”

Carrasco’s stance is rather brazen compared to many of the other footballers that have moved to the Middle East, but equally his insistence that he would have seen human rights abuses occurring in his short time there seems tricky to explain.