Saudi’s Italian Super Cup games goes ahead. Women allowed in, broadcast partners left out

January 17 – Following weeks of protests over gender discrimination, thousands of women attended Wednesday night’s controversial Italian Supercup final between Juventus and AC Milan in Saudi Arabia – but all of them were reportedly chaperoned by men or accompanied by male children.

It was a game that will also threaten the media rights value of Serie A and its clubs if broadcasters follow through on their veiled threats to pull out of Serie A TV licensing deals because of the support they say it gives to the Saudis over their backing of the beoutQ pirate broadcaster.

It is a support that has been condemned throughout the world of sport including FIFA, UEFA, the Premier League and LaLiga who have seen their rights pirated on an industrial scale.

beIN Sport and Eleven Sports had both written to Serie A suggesting that the game should be moved and the Saudis should not be rewarded for supporting copyright theft.

Serie A will receive $20 million for three Super Cup games. They stand to jeopardise about $1.2 billion in international broadcast rights fees. If carried through the vital outreach of international broadcast exposure will destroy most of the expansion ambitions of Italy’s top, and – in Milan’s case – foreign owned clubs.

Women allowed in

Female fans entered the King Abdullah Sports City stadium in Jeddah city through designated turnstiles for “families”, with single women barred from purchasing tickets.

The restriction had sparked a furious reaction in Italy, with deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini calling it “disgusting”.

Reports said there were up to 15,000 women among the 62,000 crowd with Italian football league president Gaetano Micciche hailing the turnout a success.

Saudi Arabia last year introduced wide-ranging reforms aimed at modernisation including easing the ban on women attending sports events and overturning the world’s only ban on women drivers though, ironically, women driving instructors are apparently still banned.

Italian politicians and human rights activists objected to the Supercup being played in Saudi Arabia, part of a three-year deal providing more than 20 million euros to Serie A and 3.5 million euros to participating clubs.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored the only goal of the game to hand Juventus their first trophy of the season with Milan playing  the last quarter of an hour a man down after Ivorian midfielder Franck Kessie saw red.

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