Saudi Arabia gears up for the Spanish Super Cup

Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales and Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the GSA, tour the stadium in Jeddah where the Spanish Super Cup will be played. (GSA)
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Updated 07 January 2020

Saudi Arabia gears up for the Spanish Super Cup

  • Chairman of GSA: Hosting sports events positions Kingdom on world stage

JEDDAH: Spanish football makes its debut in Saudi Arabia this week, as fans gear up for another mega sporting event when four elite Spanish football teams — FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia FC and Atlético de Madrid — strut their stuff in Jeddah in the Supercopa de España (Spanish Super Cup).

This will be the first edition of the cup under its new four team format, to be held Jan. 8 to 12 at the 62,000- capacity King Abdullah Sports City Stadium.

Speaking to Arab News during the Dakar Rally press conference, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA) said: “We are fully prepared to host the top four teams from Spain, and I am sure football fans here in Saudi Arabia are very excited to see their favorite Spanish clubs in action.

“Hosting global sports events is part of our long term (plan) and we are pushing our credentials as an international actor through sport. Saudi Arabia has recently hosted a number of events, such as the Italian Super Cup between Juventus and Lazio, Brazil versus Argentina, Formula E racing, the Joshua-Ruiz boxing match, golf’s European Tour tournament, the tennis exhibition tournament, Dakar Rally, with more still to come. One of the key visions in the ‘2030 Vision’ is to promote and grow sports within the Kingdom,” he added.

Tickets for the Spanish Super Cup started to go on sale from Dec. 11 last year, and according to organizers, all games are already sold out. Tickets for the semifinals started at SR75 ($19.99), with the final at SR150.

The Spanish Super Cup, in its new format, will be played in Saudi Arabia for the next three years.

The cup has previously been contested over two legs between the holders of the La Liga and the Copa del Rey.

The 2019-20 Spanish Super Cup will be the 36th edition of the annual competition that started in 1982. Real Sociedad won the inaugural title against Real Madrid, losing the first leg 1-0, and winning the second leg 4-0 for a 4-1 aggregate victory.

The Spanish Super Cup was held only once outside the country — last year when the Ibn Battuta Stadium in Morocco hosted Barcelona and Sevilla, which saw the Catalans triumph 2-1.

Barcelona are the dominant team in the competition, with 13 wins overall.

Saudi fans will miss the opportunity to watch five major stars: Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, midfielder Arthur Melo, forward Ousmane Dembele, Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard and Valencia’s Rodrigo Moreno are all out injured.

Barcelona and Real Madrid have avoided each other in the semifinals draw. Real clash with Valencia on Jan. 8 and Barcelona face Atletico on Jan. 9. The final will take place on Jan. 12.


Premier League in spotlight as debate swirls around virus action

David de Gea
Updated 07 April 2020

Premier League in spotlight as debate swirls around virus action

  • The league was last week accused by one British lawmaker of operating in a ‘moral vacuum’

LONDON: Premier League clubs are facing a fierce backlash after Liverpool became the latest club to tap into public funds during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)  pandemic as players and bosses struggle to resolve a festering pay-cut row.

English top-flight clubs, among the wealthiest in the world, have come under intense scrutiny as the health crisis escalates, with government ministers warning bosses and players they should “think carefully” over their next moves.
The highest-paid Premier League players such as David de Gea and Kevin De Bruyne command mouthwatering salaries, reportedly nearing £20 million ($25 million, €23 million) a year.
Even the average salary for a Premier League footballer is more than £3 million a year, according to the 2019 Global Sports Salaries Survey.
European champions Liverpool, who recorded pre-tax profits of £42 million in February, announced their decision to furlough some nonplaying staff on Saturday, becoming the fifth Premier League club to do so.
The controversial move comes with no sign of a deal between Premier League clubs and players’ representatives on a pay cut.
Olivier Dowden, a culture and sports minister, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said people had a right to expect leadership from football.
“Clubs, players and owners should be thinking very carefully about their next steps,” he said.
“Leaving the public purse to pick up the cost of furloughing low-paid workers, while players earn millions and billionaire owners go untouched is something I know the public will rightly take a very dim view of.”
Former Liverpool stars Jamie Carragher and Stan Collymore strongly criticized the move by the Premier League leaders.
Under the scheme, the British government pays 80 percent of wages. Liverpool said they would top up the remaining 20 percent.
“I don’t know of any Liverpool fan of any standing that won’t be anything other than disgusted at the club for furloughing staff,” tweeted Collymore.
Liverpool fan group Spirit of Shankly initially supported the move but later wrote to the club expressing concern at the negative reaction.
“We understand this is essentially an employee/employer issue, but as LFC’s recognised official supporter representatives we are concerned about the damage this is causing to our club’s reputation and values,” the group said.

HIGHLIGHTS

● The highest-paid Premier League players such as David de Gea and Kevin De Bruyne command mouthwatering salaries, reportedly nearing £20 million ($25 million, €23 million) a year.

● Olivier Dowden, a culture and sports minister, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said people had a right to expect leadership from football.

Liverpool’s opponents in last year’s Champions League final, Tottenham, owned by billionaire Joe Lewis, have also opted for the furlough option, along with Newcastle, Norwich and Bournemouth.
Reigning champions Manchester City said they would not be using the government’s job retention scheme, with Manchester United reportedly set to follow their example.
The Premier League has been seen as lagging behind other European leagues in its response to coronavirus — in Spain, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid players have agreed to pay cuts of 70 percent.
The league was last week accused by one British lawmaker of operating in a “moral vacuum” and many politicians have urged action.
The Premier League’s suggested strategy involving a combination of pay cuts and deferrals amounting to 30 percent of wages, was discussed in a conference call with players’ and managers’ representatives on Saturday.