he Arab region continues to have the attention of soccer as an international venue. After almost four weeks after the closing of the World Cup in Qatar, it is Saudi Arabia’s turn to host the Spanish Super Cup at the King Fahd stadium in Riyadh.
It is the fourth edition of the reformulated Super Cup, which used to be played only between the La Liga champion and the Copa del Rey champion. Now the runners-up of each contest have come together to play a home run. With the new format, Real Madrid took over the Super Cup in 2020 and 2022, and Athletic Bilbao was crowned in 2021, when the tournament was played again in Spain, due to the pandemic. Madrid and Valencia face each other, after suffering defeats at the weekend in the Spanish La Liga. Both have been measured in various qualifiers of all kinds, but since the 98-99 season, Valencia has not been able to eliminate the merengue team.
“Titles are always important. Last year’s title gave us confidence for the season, and hopefully this Super Cup will be the same. We are very close, because there are only two games, and we have to prepare it very well to be able to take it home with us”, said the Madrid coach, Carlo Ancelotti.
In the second game Barcelona and Real Betis will try to maintain their good performance. The top winner of the Super Cup are the Catalans with 13 trophies to their credit, one more than Real Madrid.
According to ESPN, the Super Cup will report a benefit of 42.8 million dollars to the Spanish Soccer Federation for the agreement signed in June 2021 and which lasted two years before until 2029, within the figure, a commission of 8.5 million is considered which Gerard Piqué collected (through his company Kosmos), which is the commercial operator.
The Saudi headquarters has faced criticism like Qatar over human rights. In June 2021, when the Spanish Federation agreed to a deal worth $120 million for Saudi Arabia to host the tournament until 2029, Amnesty International criticized little improvement in “the systematic abuse of homosexuals and continued discrimination against women”. In 2019, when the first Spanish Super Cup was played in Saudi Arabia, the president of LaLiga, Javier Tebas, was also dissatisfied, “not only because of human rights” but also because “they have been hacking Spanish and European football for two years via a Saudi Arabian government-backed pay TV.”
The Super Cup can work for the curriculum of Saudi Arabia, which aspires to organize the 2030 World Cup together with Egypt and Greece. If Qatar has been able to and the image of Messi with the trophy and the tunic is already iconic, they can too.
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