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Serie A agrees deal to extend Saudi hosting of Supercoppa Italiana

Akash Roy By Akash Roy, Staff Writer
Published: 16:54, 16 Mar 2023 Updated: 16:59, 16 Mar 2023

Four of the next six editions of the competition will be played in Saudi Arabia, where three of the last five took place

Bosses at Serie A have concluded a deal which will see four of the next six editions of the Supercoppa Italiana played in Saudi Arabia.

Three of the last five versions of the competition have taken place on Saudi soil, with the two exceptions coming during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Those finals were played in Reggio behind closed doors and in Milan with hugely limited capacity.

The final returned to Saudi Arabia last season when Inter beat Milan in a 3-0 derby victory at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh.

Now four of the following six editions will return to Saudi Arabia, including the 2023-24 version which will see the trophy contested in a new four-team format.

This expansion of the competition will see the Supercoppa following in the footsteps of the Supercopa de España, which began using a four-team model during the 2019-20 season and has continued to do so since. Three of the last four editions of the Spanish tournament have also been played in Saudi Arabia.

The Middle Eastern country continues to invest in football in numerous ways as it draws criticism from journalists and experts around the game for alleged "sports-washing" activities.

The Supercoppa returns to Saudi

The new deal was signed and ratified at a meeting of all 20 Serie A clubs earlier this week in Milan.

Under the conditions of this new agreement, the next two editions of the tournament will be played in Saudi Arabia, before a two-year break will allow the league to take the tournament elsewhere, and then return to Saudi Arabia for the following two editions.

Serie A Chief Executive Officer, Luigi De Siervo, said of the new format:

“The choice of format can be discussed year-on-year and will be defined on the basis of the commitments and calendar of the participants. Next season, the four-team Supercoppa will bring in €23m,while with just one match and a friendly the figure will drop to €12m.”

For now the new format remains the new normal for the Supercoppa Italiana, but as De Siervo outlined, this could be changed depending on how it goes.

However, the system has worked very well for the Spanish version of this competition in Saudi Arabia so it is unlikely to change.

Serie A deals with Saudi Arabia not always popular

Italian football's increasingly close relationship with Saudi Arabia has not always been widely welcomed outside of the league's executive board.

Upon striking their initial agreement some years ago, BeIN Media Group, the broadcasting giant which is headquartered in neighbouring Qatar and provides sports coverage to fans across the Middle East and North Africa, pleaded with the league to reconsider its decision to partner with the Saudis, following a drawn-out legal battle regarding the Saudi state's supposed sponsoring of pirate network beoutQ.

Their failure to reconsider that decision caused a rift between Serie A and BeIN Sports, which for a long time saw the league unable to secure a pay-TV broadcast partner in the region, and resort to making games available for free on YouTube.

However, the league was eventually able to strike a new broadcast deal with Abu Dhabi Media (ADM) who will now cover the competition for the next three seasons.

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