The new federation tournament concludes in Jeddah under an uncomfortable sense of normalcy
The worst is not the impact of the first time. The worst, no doubt, is the normalization of the scenario.
Getting used to the usual segregation of women, who tend to observe everything from their small slit of niqab. Become familiar with celebrating that a woman can finally take a flyer, sit where she feels like in a football field or process a passport without the permission of a man or guardian. And, of course, get used to the disturbing daily life of the null public presence of opponents – in the streets and of course in the stands – who can discuss the activities of an absolute monarchy. No banners claiming the freedom of activists like Loujain Alhathloul, imprisoned after fighting the male guardianship system. Without anyone asking for more answers for the allegations of systematic torture proclaimed by organizations such as Amnista International. Without anyone claiming the end of the Yemen war. The only fabrics deployed during the three games, beyond those relating to the teams, those of the king and the crown prince in the center of the field. The normality.
Impeccable in sports, low profile in everything else
The Super Cup that the Spanish Soccer Federation sold to Saudi Arabia attracted the local public and frightened the fans of the competing teams. Of course, he achieved an organization without fault, with the imposing and modern King Abdullah Stadium as the center of ceremonies. Beyond twisting a competition system that allowed the presence in the final of two clubs that had not won either League or Cup, the tournament offered duels of high competitive and medical load, especially the Barcelona-Atletico that inaugurated the operetta with Ernesto Valverde and Xavi Hernndez as protagonists. The final, with the Madrid derby, contains a determined match in the penalty shootout. I was not surprised that in the ceremony prior to the final meeting, which simply consisted of the deployment of Real Madrid and Atletico shirts, no women participated.
THE ROLE OF WOMEN
Freedom of access, but minority presence in the stands
Women can enter the soccer fields of Saudi Arabia from January 12, 2018, when a match between Al-Ahli and Al-Batin is played. They were held, however, in so-called family spaces. Sectors that are also found in coffee makers or restaurants and that prevent them from sharing habitat with single men.
During the Spanish Super Cup, the women present did not have that limitation and could sit alone. No men to control them by his side. Trust that this is the norm. The Spanish Federation, however, does not export the Spanish Women's Super Cup to Saudi Arabia. It was not the time. The presence of women in the stands of King Abdullah Stadium, in any case, was very minor. S procur the organization that were visible in other tasks within the stadium, especially acting as stewards or as assistants in the stands.
The 120 million euros in three years, almost half for clubs
120 million euros were signed in exchange for playing the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia for three years, with almost half of the prize money for the clubs in dispute. The first edition has been played in Jeddah, although, as was the case with the same Italian tournament, the tournament could also be held in the capital of the country, Riyadh.
The sale of the tournament's television rights, broadcast in Spain by Movistar + after RTVE refused to bid on it, went from 2.4 to 11 million euros. We were in crisis. We have achieved that a Third club not only does not lose the 30,000 euros that it obtains so far, but also earns more than 40,000. Or that a second one can go from 70,000 to more than 100,000 euros. This Super Cup is oxygen for us, Rubiales defends this week during his visit to the holy city of Medina. The day he approached Muhammad's mountain.
Rejection of club fans, but almost full bleachers
The clubs sold 1,076 of the 12,000 tickets available to them. Although with a very important caveat. Almost all of them went to Middle Eastern fans. To give an example, of the 300 locations that managed to place the Barca club, only 34 fans left from Barcelona. Fans that, after seeing how his team was eliminated and with the whole week in Jeddah paid, they could not even go to the final because their tickets only gave access to it if Bara was one of the finalists. Florentino Prez, president of Real Madrid, gave 70 tickets to Spanish Vueling workers destined these months in Jeddah.
A total of 58,410 spectators went to the semifinal between Barcelona and the Atletico. The game that least interest was the first semifinal (Real Madrid-Valencia), with 40,877 spectators of the 62,345 that the stadium has as capacity. The final registered an attendance 59,053 fans.
The boos to Ernesto Valverde every time he was shown by the video markers, the ecstasy generated by Messi or the passion for Real Madrid in the final duel against the Atlantic set the preferences against matches played with temperatures around 20 degrees.
We knew that the Super Cup was going to go from being little more than a summer bolus to a very important competition. It is the most important short official tournament in the world. It was not understood in Spain.
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