Photo Essay: Blue Power, Al Hilal's vibrant and vocal support

Four-time Asian Champions, Saudi Arabia's leading club are known for their passionate fan base

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Al Hilal are celebrated as most probably Asian football’s grandest club.

The Saudis are four-time champions of the continent – a record. Winners in 1991, 2000, 2019 and 2021, they have contested the Asian Champions League final more than any other team in history. Their most recent, last year’s narrow defeat to Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds, represented a ninth appearance in the showpiece.

Domestically, Hilal are Saudi Arabia’s most decorated club. They have won the top-flight title 18 times – another record. In fact, they have twice as many as the next teams on the rank, Al Ittihad and Al Nassr.

Hilal sealed their first Saudi championship in 1979. Nine points clear in this season’s Saudi Pro League, with a game in hand, next month they are certain to add another.

Understandably, given the prowess and the pedigree, they are also one of Asia’s best-supported clubs.

Hilal fans are known across the continent for their passion and pride in their team; the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, closed recently for refurbishment, could be intimidating but intoxicating, as well.

Hilal’s “Blue Power”, the club’s considerable collection of hardcore supporters, typically lead the songs and the chants, bouncing in unison throughout matches.

Their tifos, large banners or signs that display image or text, are raised or unwrapped before matches, usually depicting a message to the players or to the opposition. To the world.

“We are here” declared the most recent, emerging from behind the goal on Tuesday night in Riyadh, before Hilal’s Champions League semi-final second leg with UAE club Al Ain.

Hilal may have decamped to the newly constructed Kingdom Arena, a smaller indoor arena where the noise reverberates and the atmosphere rattles the bone, but their fans are no less vociferous.

“Asia’s Leader”, proclaims another. For that is what they are. Out in front in trophies and, after last summer’s unprecedented spending, in talent. Their fanatic support can certainly lay claim to that title, too.

Updated: April 26, 2024, 6:01 PM