By Andrew Warshaw
November 8 – In a move that is bound to incur the wrath of beIN Sports and will also have alarmed UEFA, Serie A have confirmed that the Italian SuperCup will be held in Saudi Arabia for the second consecutive year.
Following last year’s fixture in Jeddah, Juventus will play Lazio at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh on December 22 as part of a three-year deal.
At the recent Leaders conference in London, beIN Media Group CEO, Yousef Al-Obaidly used his keynote speech to denounce the likes of Italy and Spain for hosting events in Saudi Arabia in light of the ongoing piracy by Saudi channel beoutQ. This includes the illegal retransmission of Serie A matches for which beIN holds the broadcast rights.
“The CEOs of Serie A and the Spanish FA (RFEF) continue to see no issue with hosting their flagship Super Cup games in the very country that has been stealing the commercial rights of all their broadcast partners for over two year, destroying the value of the Italian and Spanish game in the process,” Al-Obaidly, who a year ago wrote to Serie A chief executive Luigi de Siervo urging him to reconsider the arrangement, told his audience.
Serie A is desperate to rebuild its broadcast sales reputation and previously, the Italian super cup has been held in the USA (1993 and 2003), four times in China (2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015), in Libya (2002) and twice in Qatar (2014 and 2016).
But the Italians, putting commercial interests first, are clearly taking no notice of the ongoing scandal even though ironically they were one of several bodies to issue a joint statement in July condemning BeoutQ and calling on authorities in Saudi Arabia to end the pirate operation.
UEFA will also have been alerted by Serie A’s decision to stick to their three-year SuperCup deal. In September UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin urged European nations and clubs to boycott playing in countries where women are forbidden from attending men’s matches.
Ceferin used a news conference at the end of a UEFA executive committee to reveal that the organisation had recommended to its 55 nations and their clubs not to play anywhere “where women have restricted access to stadiums.”
In a clear reference to Iran and Saudi Arabia, Ceferin told reporters: “We know that two countries in the world do not allow women and girls to watch (men’s) football.”
“We cannot punish anyone … but that does not mean we have to be quiet. So our advice to 55 federations and all clubs will be to ensure that their teams do not play in these countries or against teams from these countries where the basic rights of women are not respected.”
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