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.


Hamilton tests positive for COVID-19, will miss Sakhir F1 GP

Updated 01 December 2020

Hamilton tests positive for COVID-19, will miss Sakhir F1 GP

  • The team issued a statement saying Hamilton was tested three times last week and returned a negative result each time
  • Hamilton is in isolation in accordance with the health protocols in Bahrain

World champion Lewis Hamilton tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the Sakhir Grand Prix this weekend, his Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team said Tuesday.
The team issued a statement saying Hamilton was tested three times last week and returned a negative result each time, the last on Sunday afternoon at the Bahrain International Circuit where he won the Grand Prix.
“But he up woke Monday morning with mild symptoms and was informed at the same time that a contact prior to arrival in Bahrain had subsequently tested positive,” the team said. “Lewis, therefore, took a further test and returned a positive result. This has since been confirmed by a retest.”
Hamilton is in isolation in accordance with the health protocols in Bahrain.
“Apart from mild symptoms, he is otherwise fit and well, and the entire team sends him its very best wishes for a swift recovery,” the team statement said.
The 35-year-old Hamilton appeared to be drained at the end of the race in Bahrain.
“It’s physical, this track has always been physical. We’ve got lots of high-speed corners so I was definitely feeling it,” he said soon after the GP. “I was sliding around a lot out there and I wasn’t really quite sure how it would play out at the end.”
There is another race in Bahrain on Sunday — on Sakhir’s shorter outer circuit — before the 17-race season concludes in Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton has a big lead in the F1 drivers’ champion with 332 points, well ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas on 201 points and Max Verstappen on 189.
The Mercedes team said it would announce a replacement driver later in the week.