Spanish TV turns back on RFEF’s Saudi Super Cup citing human rights concerns

November 15 – The criticism of the Spanish FA’s (RFEF) decision to move its Super Cup to Saudi Arabia in a €130 million deal is now alienating broadcast partners with state broadcaster RTVE saying it will not bid for the TV rights due to human rights concerns.

The first edition of the revamped tournament in Saudi Arabia – featuring Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Valencia – is due to be played in Jeddah in January 2020.

“RTVE will not join the bidding to buy the rights to broadcast the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia because this country violates human rights, especially women’s rights in the area of sport,” RTVE’s head of sport Jesus Alvarez said.

“It’s a country where until very recently women couldn’t go to watch football. Human rights are fundamental to this corporation, which has made a big push for women’s sport in the last few years.”

The decision is threatening to leave the RFEF without a domestic broadcaster for the Super Cup.

Spanish press are reporting that the other major broadcast groups – Atresmedia and Mediaset – have both passed on the rights. Their concern seems to be that they are sceptical that the competition has any value. That would leave Mediapro and its Gol channel as the only other obvious broadcast route, though that seems an unlikely route due to the poor relations between Mediapro and the RFEF.

The decision by broadcaster to leave the Super Cup alone comes on the back of the RFEF being warned by Spain’s competition authorities over its invitation to tender for rights to the competition and a request for the RFEF to clarify the award process and reform it for future tenders for the sake of “transparency, competition and non-discrimination”.

A report by the Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia (CNMC) said it is the fifth time it has warned the Spanish soccer body to comply with regulatory requirements when marketing broadcast rights.

Specifically it tells the RFEF to operate within the law to ensure “the joint marketing of audiovisual rights falling within the scope of this royal decree-law”.

That is becoming less of a problem with domestic broadcasters seemingly reluctant to deal with the RFEF. With Spanish broadcasters deserting the competition then the likelihood is that international broadcasters will similarly back off, potentially leaving the RFEF alone in the desert with a streaming product.

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