Spain considers playing Super Cup in Saudi Arabia

In this file photo, Barcelona's Lionel Messi lifts the trophy as they celebrate winning the Spanish Super Cup. (Reuters)
Updated 24 April 2019

Spain considers playing Super Cup in Saudi Arabia

  • Proposal will be made at the federation’s general assembly next week

MADRID: The Spanish soccer federation is looking into the possibility of playing the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia beginning next year.

Federation President Luis Rubiales said Wednesday playing in the Middle East is one of the options being considered for the tournament, as well as a “final four” format with the top finishers in the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey.

The competition has been played in a one-game final between the champions at the beginning of the season. The idea is to play the new Super Cup in January.

The proposal will be made during the federation’s general assembly next week.

Rubiales did not confirm reports the deal will be worth €30 million ($33 million) a year for six seasons, saying “it will be difficult” to reach that value.

The federation president, one of the main critics of the Spanish league’s idea to play a regular-season match in the US, said the decision would take into consideration the players’ health, noting that playing in Saudi Arabia would not affect them as much as if the game was played in the US or Asia, where travel time and time differences were greater. Last year’s final, won by Barcelona against Sevilla, was played in Tangier, Morocco.

This year’s Italian Super Cup was played in Saudi Arabia as part of a multi-year deal worth more than €20 million ($22 million).  The Spanish players’ association, which complained about the Spanish league’s attempt to play in the US, did not oppose the idea of playing in Saudi Arabia.

“We weren’t against playing in the United States, what we wanted at the time was to be consulted about the idea and to give our opinion,” association president David Aganzo said Wednesday at an event organized by Europa Press. “If the proposal for the Super Cup is good for the players, we won’t have a problem with it.”

The Spanish league had to scrap the game in Florida after Barcelona, which would have faced Girona, backed down because of the lack of consensus among the parties involved. The league said it will try playing abroad again next season.

There is also a plan by the federation to reduce the number of games in the Copa del Rey to help clear up the calendar and keep teams from playing too many matches. The competition would include single elimination matches in some rounds, instead of a two-leg series. The proposal is also expected to be presented in next week’s general assembly.

“The clubs and the players want less official matches in the calendar,” Rubiales said.


Spurs rocked on Bale’s return, Mitrovic suffers penalty misery

Updated 18 October 2020

Spurs rocked on Bale’s return, Mitrovic suffers penalty misery

  • Bale misses golden opportunity to wrap up the points before West Ham’s Lanzini snatches an equalizer

LONDON: West Ham ruined Gareth Bale’s Tottenham return with a stunning late fightback from three goals down to rescue a thrilling 3-3 draw, while Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic endured a penalty nightmare in a 1-1 draw at Sheffield United on Sunday.

Tottenham were leading 3-0 when Bale came on as a 72nd minute substitute for his first appearance since joining on a season-long loan from Real Madrid.

But Bale suffered a debut to forget as Tottenham capitulated in astonishing fashion.

The Wales star was one of the main Tottenham culprits as he missed a golden opportunity to wrap up the points before West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini snatched a stoppage-time equalizer.

Tottenham took the lead with just 45 seconds gone when Son Heung-min and Harry Kane combined to create a goal for the seventh time this season.

Kane was the catalyst, dropping deep into midfield before unfurling a majestic long pass that found Son, who cut into the West Ham area and curled his shot into the far corner.

It was Kane’s turn to get on the scoresheet in the 8th minute as he nutmegged Declan Rice and fired into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

Tottenham’s sizzling start featured a third goal in the 16th minute, with England captain Kane heading in from Sergio Reguilon’s pin-point cross for his 10th goal of the season.

Having crushed Manchester United 6-1 in their last game before the international break, Jose Mourinho’s side looked odds on for another emphatic victory.

Back at Tottenham seven years after leaving for Real in a then world record deal, Bale hopes to prove he is still a world-class talent despite a long spell out of favor with Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.

But it was West Ham who were the dominant force after Bale’s introduction to replace Steven Bergwijn.

Fabian Balbuena nodded in from Aaron Cresswell’s cross after 82 minutes and Davinson Sanchez’s headed own goal from Vladimir Coufal’s delivery three minutes later left Tottenham panicking.

Bale should have scored in stoppage-time, but he shot wide after bursting into the area and Lanzini made him pay with a brilliant 25-yard blast into the top corner.

It was just the third time in Premier League history that a side has avoided defeat despite trailing by at least three goals going into the 80th minute.

At Bramall Lane, Fulham’s Mitrovic fired over with his second half penalty after Jack Robinson handled.

On-loan Leipzig winger Ademola Lookman put Fulham ahead in the 77th minute with a superb solo effort, beating two men before firing into the roof of the net.

But Serbia international Mitrovic was penalized for a high foot on Robinson in the 85th minute following a VAR check and Billy Sharp made him pay as he drove his penalty down the middle.

Mitrovic is the first player to commit the unwanted penalty double in the same Premier League game since Mikel Arteta for Arsenal against Fulham in 2012.

Meanwhile, Liverpool said on Sunday that the club’s star Virgil van Dijk will undergo surgery on his right knee after damaging ligaments in a challenge by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during the Merseyside derby.

Liverpool did not give a timescale on Van Dijk’s absence, but an injury of that nature will likely keep the Netherlands international out for a long period.