Spanish FA in talks over £150m deal to take Super Cup to Saudi Arabia for next six seasons

Ed Malyon

The Spanish FA (RFEF) are in negotiations over taking their newly expanded Super Cup to Saudi Arabia in a money-spinning €180m, six-season deal.

La Liga are vehemently opposed to the new format of the competition, which would see the traditional two-team format enlarged to four teams playing a semi-final and then final.

The RFEF and La Liga have been at war for some time, with both organisations pulling in different directions. The Spanish federation moved to try and block La Liga's attempts to play a league fixture between FC Barcelona and Girona in Miami, while La Liga have openly questioned the plans for an expanded Super Cup that they see as a tawdry money grab designed to exploit the brands of Barca and Real Madrid. That is, after all, something La Liga are experts in.

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Spanish radio station Cadena Cope have reported that the new competition will begin in January 2020.

Last season's one-off fixture was played between Barcelona and Sevilla in Tangier, Morocco, but the new, bigger format was always likely to head to a more lucrative destination.

Lionel Messi and Barcelona will almost certainly have to play in Saudi Arabia annually (Getty)
Lionel Messi and Barcelona will almost certainly have to play in Saudi Arabia annually (Getty)

The new-look tournament will feature La Liga's top two sides - currently Barca and Atletico - plus the finalists of the Copa del Rey - Barca and Valencia. On occasions where teams fulfil both criteria, qualification will pass to the next team eligible on league position. This season that would be Real Madrid.

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Saudi Arabia has already agreed a deal to bring Italy's Super Cup to the kingdom, with the first of three finals contracted to be played there taking place in Jeddah back in January.

While it is an increasing part of Saudi Arabia's sporting policy to bring major events to the country, governing bodies have faced criticism for getting into bed with a kingdom that provokes serious human rights concerns.

Saudi Arabia's crown prince was implicated in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 but 18 arrests that followed "appeared to be designed to insulate Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman from further scrutiny over the murder" according to Human Rights Watch, a not-for-profit watchdog.

"Saudi authorities stepped up their arbitrary arrests, trials, and convictions of peaceful dissidents and activists in 2018, including a large-scale coordinated crackdown against the women’s rights movement beginning in May. In June, Saudi Arabia ended the long-standing ban on women driving, but authorities continued to discriminate against women and religious minorities," Human Rights Watch add.

This week, Saudi Arabia faced further criticism after confirming the executions of 37 people, including one man just 16 years old at the time of arrest.

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