Spanish Super Cup to be hosted in Saudi capital Riyadh again

It is the third time the tournament will take place in the Middle East, as part of a deal to keep the tournament there until 2029, worth a reported €30 million ($30.1 million) a season for the Spain's football federation.

Spanish Super Cup to be hosted in Saudi capital Riyadh again
A staff member holds the trophy ahead of the Spanish Super Cup semi-final football match between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the King Fahd International stadium in the Saudi capital Riyadh on January 12, 2022. (Photo by Fayez Nureldine / AFP)

The Spanish Super Cup will take place in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia in January 2023, the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) announced Thursday.

Reigning champions and La Liga winners Real Madrid will face Copa del Rey runners up Valencia in one semi-final, with cup-winners Real Betis playing Barcelona, who finished second in the league in the other.

“The three matches will be played at the King Fahd de Riyadh stadium, a spectacular venue with capacity for over 60,000 fans,” said the RFEF in a statement.

The semi-finals will take place on January 11 and 12 with the final on January 15th.

In the 2019/20 season the Spanish Super Cup was played in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, but because of the coronavirus pandemic it returned to Spain in 2020/21.

Last season it returned to Saudi Arabia, being held in Riyadh where Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 2-0 in the final.

The tournament has been mired in various controversies, including Barcelona defender Gerard Pique’s sports event company Kosmos being paid for helping arrange the move to Saudi Arabia, as well as concerns over human rights issues in the host country.

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IN IMAGES: Argentina fans take over Spain’s cities after World Cup win

Thousands of Argentinians took to the streets of Madrid, Barcelona and other city centres across Spain to celebrate their national side’s victory against France in the World Cup final on Sunday.  

IN IMAGES: Argentina fans take over Spain's cities after World Cup win

Many of the roughly 100,000 Argentinians who have made Spain their home celebrated en masse the victory of la albiceleste until the early hours of Sunday night, packing squares, honking horns, chanting football songs and adorning everything in white and light blue. 

Argentina’s World Cup victory against France on penalties after an exhilarating 3-3 draw saw an explosion of joy among Argentinians the world around, and Spain was no exception. 

By midday in Madrid, there was a 50-metre queue outside nightclub Shoko, where Argentina fans gathered to watch their team on a big screen. 

When the winning penalty was scored, they exploded onto the streets, filling the Spanish capital’s Puerta del Sol square to the brim. 

Celebrations at times got out of hand, with some fans trying to climb the giant Christmas tree in Madrid’s iconic square.

Riot police had to be called in to assist and two people were arrested. 

In Barcelona, 10,000 people gathered at the city’s Arc de Triomf, lighting the sky red with flares and letting off fireworks, but fortunately there were no arrests or accidents reported.

Barcelona and Argentina share a common idol in Lionel Messi, who scored two goals in the final and was chosen player of the tournament. 

In Valencia, Argentina fans gathered in front of the town hall to celebrate. In Málaga, they gathered at River Plate’s youth academy branch. Similar scenes were witnessed in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Seville, Bilbao and other cities across the territory.  

Spain’s cultural and linguistic links with Argentina run deep, as together with Italians, Spaniards made up the majority of the migrants that turned modern Argentina into a European melting pot in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

In more recent years, the trend has been reversed, with large migration flows every time an economic crisis hits the Argentine peso.

So far in 2022, more than 33,000 Argentine nationals have moved to Spain, the highest number in 14 years. 

Many of them have Italian passports, which partly explains why the biggest foreign population group in Barcelona are Italians. 

But under Spain’s new Grandchildren Law, many thousands of Argentine nationals will be able to claim Spanish citizenship, in plenty of cases without having ever lived in Spain.