April 24 – The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has unveiled plans for the Spanish Super Cup to be staged in Saudi Arabia from January 2020 for six editions.
Earlier this year the kingdom hosted the Italian Super Cup amid a storm of criticism, not least from broadcast rights holder in the region beIN Sport that the deal broke the spirit of their agreements for the Italian league and cup broadcasts – the Super Cup pits the winners of both in a play-off match.
The Spanish Super Cup is the traditional season curtain raiser which matches the winners of La Liga against the Copa del Rey holders. The August fixture would be shifted to January.
The RFEF is reportedly looking for €30 million per season, but remains open to alternative offers and venues. “With regards to the Super Cup, the RFEF will develop a ‘Final Four’ format for the tournament to take place outside of Spain in the month of January,” read an RFEF statement.
In 2018 the Italian football league agreed a €20 million deal to play three of the next five Italian Super Cups in Saudi Arabia, but after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October protest against the decision to play the game in Saudi Arabia grew.
“We must immediately reverse the decision to play the Supercoppa in Riyadh,” said the former sports minister Luca Lotti, a member of parliament for the opposition Partito Democratico. “The world of sport cannot let itself fall behind. I can imagine that there are various economic interests behind this match but what took place in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul cannot pass in silence.”
The Supercoppa final had been played abroad several times, with the United States, China and Qatar previous foreign venues, but controversy over the Jeddah game persisted as large parts of the stadium would be out of bounds for women, who were permitted to attend the game but only in designated family areas. The global condemnation of the regime had little effect on top-flight Italian football administrators and the game went ahead with Juventus defeating Milan 1-0.
With Spain following in Italy’s footsteps, Saudi Arabia is once more trying to widen its footprint in the global game after achieving pariah status over the piracy of rogue TV channel beoutQ and its failed attempt to launch a presidential candidate for the AFC elections backed by the now-defunct SWAFF. This week’s RFEF announcement, however, comes at the same time as another shocking political moment as Saudi Arabia executed 37 men, including a person aged just 16 at the time of his arrest.
The RFEF also disclosed that they will introduce sweeping changes in the format of the Copa del Rey, to reduce the pressure on a congested calendar. “The president of the RFEF, Luis Rubiales, told members at a board meeting today about the project we are working on to redesign the current formats of the Spanish Super Cup and the Copa del Rey,” said a statement on the federation’s website. “”The Copa del Rey will switch formats to single-game ties played at the ground of the weaker team until the semi-final stages.”
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1558557607labto1558557607ofdlr1558557607owedi1558557607sni@o1558557607fni1558557607