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.