Why the Supercopa de Espana 2023/24 is hosted in Saudi Arabia

Those who follow the Premier League or the Bundesliga are used to their Community Shield/Super Cup being played at the beginning of a new campaign, but that is not the case in both La Liga and Serie A.

Spain’s Supercopa de Espana takes place part-way through the season and the 2023/24 edition will pit last season’s La Liga winners, La Liga runners up, Copa del Rey winners and Copa del Rey finalists against one other.

There’s an added layer of complication thrown into the mix too – the fact the Supercopa de Espana doesn’t actually take place in Spain, and hasn’t done so for the past few years.

The format of the Supercopa was revised in 2019 by the Spanish Football Federation and it now comprises of four teams in a mini-tournament, rather than a one-off match like you would see in England or Germany.

The 2023/24 edition features Barcelona (La Liga winners), Real Madrid (Copa del Rey winners), Atletico Madrid (third in La Liga, eligible as Real Madrid were second) and Osasuna (Copa del Rey runners-up.

Real Madrid will be facing Atletico Madrid in one of the semi-finals, and Barcelona will take on Osasuna in the other. The winners will contest the final and a champion will be crowned.

Date

Kick-off time (GMT)

Fixture

Location

10/01/24

19:00

Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid

KSU Stadium, Riyadh

11/01/24

19:00

Barcelona vs Osasuna

KSU Stadium, Riyadh

14/01/24

19:00

Real Madrid/Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona/Osasuna

KSU Stadium, Riyadh

You would be well within your right to ask why on earth this isn’t happening in Spain. The teams are Spanish and the competition is run by Spain’s football federation. This is modern football, though, so things are not that simple.

The Saudi Arabian decided to pay the Spanish federation €30m for each edition of the tournament until 2029 and in sport, money talks.

It has been profitable for the federation but it was certainly not a popular decision from the players and fans’ perspective. In 2022, Athletic Bilbao midfielder Raul Garcia labelled it “complete nonsense” and claimed that “fans have been forgotten” because “football now is all about making money and finding sponsors.”

The now-disgraced Luis Rubiales was quick to defend to the decision at the time, saying: “We took a game that was forgotten in the middle of summer and made it into an international event.”

The 2023/24 edition is being held at the Al-Awwal Stadium, which is home to Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr.

Italy has headed in the same direction as Spain in the sense that a deal was signed in 2018 with the General Sports Authority that would see three of the next five editions of the Supercoppa Italiana be hosted in Saudi Arabia. The 2023 edition of the Supercoppa will be played in January 2024 and that is the first to feature four teams, moving to the same format that Spain is using.

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