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Spanish Supercopa Final to hold amid criticism of Saudi Arabia's hosting deal

Posted : 14 January 2024

Real Madrid and Barcelona are set to clash in the Spanish Supercopa final in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, raising concerns about the prioritization of money over values in Spanish football. The Spanish Football Association's contract with Saudi Arabia until 2029 ensures the annual hosting of the Supercopa in Riyadh, generating significant revenue, with reports suggesting around $35-40 million per year, half of which is distributed to participating teams.


The atmosphere in the tournament has been marred by instances of disrespect, including Saudi spectators booing Franz Beckenbauer's memory and targeting Toni Kroos during the Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid semi-final.


Amidst the financial gains, human rights groups have criticized the silence of clubs and players regarding human rights violations in Saudi Arabia. Amnesty International has called for attention to these issues, urging clubs and players to speak out, but their calls have gone unanswered.


The organization proposed gestures like wearing Pride ribbons and addressing human rights concerns during press conferences, similar to actions taken by figures in other sports. Despite the opportunity to raise awareness, no response was received from players or clubs, highlighting a missed opportunity to leverage the tournament to address human rights concerns.


Spain also faced criticism for Saudi Arabia's attempt to create a sense of familiarity before the Barcelona vs. Osasuna semi-final. The pre-match atmosphere included street performers like flamenco dancers and extras dressed as bullfighters, which were considered "bizarre" and out of touch with the regions represented by the participating teams.


The use of flamenco, a cultural element associated with Andalusia in southern Spain, highlighted the disconnect with Catalonia and Navarra, the regions represented by Barcelona and Osasuna, respectively. This mismatch further underscored the questionable choices made in the pursuit of accommodating the tournament's host.


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