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RFEF seals lucrative three-year Saudi hosting deal for Supercopa

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has today (Monday) signed a three-year deal to stage its revamped Supercopa club competition in Saudi Arabia, stating the agreement will lead to the launch of a new women’s tournament and boost Spain’s bid to host the 2030 Fifa World Cup.

The contract with the Saudi Arabian Football Federation will run from 2019-20 to 2021-22. The RFEF’s official announcement did not give specific information about the inaugural event, but Spanish newspaper AS said it will take place from January 8-12 at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah.

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Atlético Madrid will take part, with Saudi Arabia said to have presented a better financial offer than interest registered from India, China and Qatar. Saudi Arabia has long been linked to the hosting rights and the RFEF in April approved changes to the Supercopa in spite of opposition from LaLiga, the governing body of the top two divisions of Spanish club football.

The deal to take the match to Saudi Arabia is worth €120m ($132.4m) to the RFEF over three years, or €40m per edition, according to various Spanish reports.

The Supercopa will now be contested in a ‘Final Four’ format instead of the traditional meeting of the reigning LaLiga and Copa del Rey champions on the eve of the domestic season. The RFEF today said this switch will allow clubs to better plan their pre-seasons, adding that aside from the participating teams all revenue from the new-look Supercopa will be invested in non-professional football in Spain.

The RFEF added that the Saudi deal includes the provision of unrestricted access for women to the games, a key topic of conversation of late, along with the potential launch of a women’s competition in the country.

In a statement, the RFEF added: “Football is essential to open borders and improve societies. It can be used as a blockade or as an element of change and the Federation has chosen the latter.

“The change of model will therefore allow this world competition to be relaunched, to recognise the demands of clubs and players with respect to the calendar, to contribute in placing Spain as a firm candidate for the 2030 World Cup and use football as the engine of social change.”

The RFEF and Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) confirmed in June that a process is underway to potentially launch a joint bid for the 2030 World Cup. Saudi Arabia’s latest move in the football market comes amid the industry’s ongoing battle against pirate broadcasting service beoutQ.

Yousef Al-Obaidly, chief executive of beIN Media Group, last month increased the pressure on the sports industry regarding the threat posed by beoutQ, and piracy in general, underlining the Qatar-based broadcaster’s stance that it will regard all sports rights as non-exclusive.

On the move by rights-holders to take their events to Saudi Arabia, Al-Obaidly remarked: “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.

“Amazingly, the Spanish FA is also completely undermining the great work that LaLiga has done. In response to piracy generally putting beoutQ aside, the industry is paying lip service to the problem at best.”

BeIN has been the hardest hit by the emergence of beoutQ with vast swathes of its sports content pirated by the Saudi Arabia-based operation.

Lega Serie A, the top division of Italian club football, announced last week that it will return to Saudi Arabia to stage this year’s edition of its Supercoppa Italiana.