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Why is the Spanish Super Cup being played in Saudi Arabia?

Why is the Spanish Super Cup being played in Saudi Arabia? Well, historically, the Spanish Super Cup was a two-legged match played between the previous year's winners of La Liga and the Copa del Rey. It was effectively the Spanish version of the Community Shield except both teams got the opportunity to play one leg at home and one away rather than at a neutral venue (ie Wembley Stadium).

In 2018, the Spanish Super Cup was played over a single leg for the first time when Sevilla faced Barcelona. Not only was this the first time that the two-leg format didn't take place, but it was also the first occasion in which the match was played overseas, with the fixture taking place in Morocco.

Ever since 2019, the Spanish Super Cup has been expanded to four teams to try and add more value to the competition. In three of the four iterations since 2019, the tournament has been played overseas rather than in Spain, with the exception of the 2021 event which took place across three stadiums in Spain due to the Covid pandemic.

Like in 2020, 2022 and 2023, this year's Spanish Super Cup is set to be played in Saudi Arabia. If you are wondering ‘Why is the Spanish Super Cup being played in Saudi Arabia?' then here is everything you need to know.

Why is the Spanish Super Cup being played in Saudi Arabia?
Barcelona are the reigning Super Cup champions – Photo by Icon Sport

Why is the Spanish Super Cup being played in Saudi Arabia? The lowdown

The Spanish Federation announced in 2019 that the future of the tournament would take place in Saudi Arabia after the Saudi Arabian government agreed to pay significant amounts of money to host the tournament for ten years. In total, the Saudi government will pay €30m for every edition of the competition until 2029 which will bring Spanish football some much-needed cash.

Spain's biggest two clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona, have both been in financial difficulties in recent times and have repeatedly tried to spearhead a new European Super League which would bring them significant cash reserves. With these plans failing, moving the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia was an inevitability but it hasn't gone down well with supporters in Spain.

Spanish supporters have rarely made the trip over to the Middle East with just 27 Valencia fans buying tickets for the inaugural event in 2020. Last year, Athletic Bilbao's Raul Garcia also slammed the concept labelling it “complete nonsense” and stating that “football is now all about making money and finding sponsors”.

The Spanish FA have refused to budge on their decision, though, not that they could do anything about it now that they are tied into a ten-year deal with Saudi Arabia. Justifying the decision, the Federation's president, Luis Rubiales, said:

“We took a game that was forgotten in the middle of summer and made it into an international event. On an ethical plane, we are doing a lot here to help the development of women in soccer, which is our commitment. The rest of the political questions are outside the scope of soccer.”

The Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia
The Spanish Super Cup has been played in Saudi Arabia in three of the last four seasons – Photo by Icon sport

Spanish Super Cup schedule

The Spanish Super Cup will feature the winners and runners-up from last season's La Liga and the winners and runners-up from last season's Copa Del Rey. There will be two semi-finals before the winners face off in the grand final. All three matches will take place at one of the smaller Saudi Arabian football stadiums – The King Saud University Stadium.

The full Spanish Super Cup schedule:

  • 10/01/24 – Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid, 19:00 UK
  • 11/01/24 – Barcelona vs Osasuna, 19:00 UK
  • 14/01/24 – 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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