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Why is the 2023 Italian Super Cup being played in Saudi Arabia?

The 2023 Italian Super Cup is set to take place this week with the competition now expanded to four teams. Historically, the Supercoppa Italiana has always been a one-off match between the current holders of Serie A and the current holders of the Coppa Italia but this year the runners-up of both competitions will also take part. But why is the Italian Super Cup being played in Saudi Arabia?

This year, the tournament will be played in Saudi Arabia but this isn't the first time that the Supercoppa has been played away from Italy. In fact, out of the 35 editions of the tournament, only 23 of them have been played in Italy making this a truly international competition.

The first overseas Supercoppa Italiana to be played away from Italy was in 1993 when AC Milan and Torino faced off in Washington in the United States. The match finished 1-0 to Milan with more than 25,000 American fans turning up to watch. Ever since, the tournament has regularly gone overseas with Supercoppa matches being played in China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Libya.

Why is the Italian Super Cup being played in Saudi Arabia?
Why is the Italian Super Cup being played in Saudi Arabia? – Photo by Icon Sport

Why is the 2023 Italian Super Cup being played in Saudi Arabia?

It was back in 2018 that Saudi Arabia first got involved in Italian football when authorities announced that the nation would host three Italian Super Cups between 2018 and 2023. When that deal ran out in March 2023, Italian football and the government of Saudi Arabia struck a new deal to not only play more matches in Saudi Arabia but to expand the tournament.

Lorenzo Casini, the president of Serie A, released a statement saying:

“The Lega Serie A Assembly, which met today in Milan with the participation of all 20 clubs, accepted the offer to play four of the next six editions of the Italian Super Cup in Saudi Arabia.”

It has been agreed that Saudi Arabia will host the Italian Super Cup in 2024, 2025, 2028 and 2029 with the hosts for the 2026 and 2027 editions of the tournament to be announced in due course. It is now expected that the four-team format will stay in place for the indefinite future.

For the 2023 tournament, all three matches will be played at the KSU Stadium in Riyadh. The stadium has a capacity of 25,000 people and is the home ground of Cristiano Ronaldo's Al-Nassr.

Italian Super Cup 2019
The Italian Super Cup was first played in Saudi Arabia in the 2018/19 season – Photo by Icon Sport

When is the Italian Super Cup being played?

The Italian Super Cup is set to be played this week with Napoli, Fiorentina, Inter Milan and Lazio all taking part. The tournament takes place a week after the Spanish Super Cup which was also played in Saudi Arabia.

The Spanish Super Cup is thought to have been the inspiration behind the Italian Super Cup. Since 2019, four teams have battled it out for the Spanish Super Cup using the same format that is set to be used for the Italian Super Cup this week. The tournament has been played in Saudi Arabia since 2019, with the exception of 2021 due to the Covid pandemic, and will continue to be played there until 2029.

The full Italian Super Cup schedule is as follows:

  • 18/01/24 – Napoli vs Fiorentina, 19:00 UK
  • 19/01/24 – Inter Milan vs Lazio, 19:00 UK
  • 22/01/24 – Winner of SF1 vs Winner of SF2, 19:00 UK

Andy Delaney

Andy is a freelance sports writer with ten years of experience covering major sporting events across Europe. He has also been a season ticket holder at Old Trafford since 2008 and has visited over 40 football stadiums in the United Kingdom and abroad following the Reds.

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