The Spanish Super Cup will be held this year in Saudi Arabia. Why are some against this decision?
LatinAmerican Post | Juan Manuel Londoño
Today, January 12, 2022, the first match of the Spanish Super Cup will be played. The event will last until January 16, the date on which the final of the event will be played. However, the fact that this event, in which only Spanish teams participate, is held in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, has caused controversy. Why does this generate so much anger among Spanish fans? Here we tell you.
Football is no longer for the fans
First of all, it should be mentioned that holding the Super Cup in Saudi Arabia is a low blow for Spanish fans. These are 7000 kilometers from the action and although only the wealthiest could indeed have bought a ticket for a Super Cup, it is now much more difficult for any Spanish fan to be in these games.
Perhaps this sentiment was summed up much better by the Athletic Bilbao captain, Raúl Albiol. “I am very clear. It doesn't make sense to me (to organize it outside). It's simple. We are playing a championship that is played in our country and going elsewhere to play does not make the sense that we all know it does. There is not much more tour than that. Controversy aside, I don't want to go in. The main thing for me is that it doesn't make sense,” the Spaniard said at a press conference.
The social burden of football
On the other hand, the history of discrimination against women and LGBTI communities in Saudi Arabia, in general, is also a point against the realization of the Super Cup in this country.
Although in last year's edition men and women were allowed to sit together in the stadiums (something completely unprecedented), female segregation began again after the event took place. Some argue that this is part of a strategy by the Saudi Arabian government that seeks to use sport as a means to "hide" the atrocities in their country.
Another criticism is directed at UEFA, as it is supposed to be an organization that supports women's rights and diversity. Supporting Saudi Arabia economically and culturally with such a high-profile event as this goes against these very principles.
The Super Cup in Saudi Arabia is one more in a long line of decisions that shows that European football is not committed to the principles of diversity, but only seeks profit. Recall, for example, the uproar caused by the Saudi government's purchase of Newcastle United last year.
Hypocrisy is one thing, but some fans also see in this decision a loss of autonomy for European football. Soon the Europeans themselves could be unable to make decisions about their league. How much room is the directives willing to give?
There is a contract between the Spanish authorities and the Arab country to develop this competition until 2029 in exchange for a figure between 240 and 320 million euros. The response of the fans to this Super Cup will be key in determining how far this agreement could go.