The Spanish Super Cup will be held in Saudi Arabia for the next three years. RFEF (the Real Spanish Football Federation) has inked a three-year deal with the Saudi Arabian Football Federation for a reported € 120 million ($ 131 million).
The four-team event in the inaugural season of the deal that runs from 2020 to 2022 will feature Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Valencia.
The tournament features the previous season’s top two La Liga Teams, along with the winners and runners-up of the Copa del Rey, or the teams finishing third and fourth in La Liga.
Barcelona will face Atletico Madrid and Valencia will take on Real Madrid in the revamped tournament between January 8 and 12, with the two winners meeting in a final.
The matches will be played at the 62,000-capacity King Abdullah Sports City stadium in Jeddah.
The Spanish football federation is expecting that the revised Super Cup format with international exposure will also strengthen the country’s claim in its bid to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup finals.
The agreement reached between the RFEF and the Saudi Arabian Football Federation also ensures unrestricted access to women for all the matches in Saudi Arabia, further leading into the launch of a women’s football competition in Arabia.
However, the move to shift the precious competition to Saudi Arabia has also invited some criticism back home.
But a government official and La Liga have criticised the move.
Spain’s acting junior minister for sport, Maria Jose Rienda, said the government would not support holding the competition “in countries where women’s rights are not respected”.
Human rights organisation Amnesty International has reportedly highlighted the Saudi Arabia’s “abysmal” human rights record. Heavy restrictions on freedom of expression and women’s rights have been raised, as has the use of the death penalty for offences not recognised as crimes under international law.
The Kingdom has sought to stage sporting and entertainment events in a bid to attract visitors and move away from its oil-dependent economy.
The Spanish Super Cup was last played in August 2018 when it was just a two-team event, with Barcelona beating Sevilla 2-1 in Tangier, Morocco