BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Facing criticism from human rights groups, the president of Spain´s soccer federation defended the return of the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia as Real Madrid prepared to play Athletic Bilbao in Sunday’s final

By terrielqi2 Jun 19, 2024

The leader of Spain’s football league defended the transfer of the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia as Real Madrid prepared to face Sport Bilbao in the final on Sunday, facing criticism from human rights organizations..

The four clubs that traveled to the mini-tournament had been instructed by Amnesty International to use vests in opposition of the country’s assault on the LGBTQ community and the destruction of women’s rights. No group did so in this year’s finals, when Madrid beat Barcelona 3- 2 in more time and Bilbao rallied past Atlético Madrid 2- 1.

Luis Rubiales, president of the Federation, argued that the decision to give the kingdom the new-look version of the Super Cup was advantageous both for the money it brought to Spanish soccer, which is estimated to be worth 30 million euros ($ 34 million ) annually through 2029, and for what he called the” small steps” it promoted for Saudi women.

” We were the first ones to sign a contract that made it inevitable, if they wanted us to take the Super Cup here, to allow women into the stadiums, and they are there, and we have helped create a women´s football club in Saudi Arabia”, Rubiales told Cadena SER television on Thursday evening.

” On an honest aircraft, we are doing a lot below to help the development of females in sports, which is our responsibility. The remaining social issues are outside the purview of sports.

The audience was largely male while ladies were in the King Fahd venue for the semifinals.

FILE- President of the Spanish Soccer Federation, Luis Rubiales, left, and Saudi General Sport Authority check gs president Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al- Ali enter a media meeting behind the Spanish Super Cup in Jiddah Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. The leader of Spain’s sports league, in response to criticism from human rights organizations and the disgruntled Spanish media, defended the transfer of the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia as Real Madrid prepares to face Sport Bilbao in the final. In opposition of the government’s restrictions on women’s rights and assaults on members of the LGBTQ community, Amnesty International had asked the four teams traveling to play in the mini-tournament to utilize armbands. ( AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File )

The federation and the clubs were called the hypocrites by Cadena SER radio host ngels Barceló, whose morning show is followed by nearly three million listeners in Spain.

No regime would offer millions of dollars for a person to defect from a one-party system without any intention to change itself, Barceló said. Spanish soccer “tarnishes itself with this competition,” as do the competing teams. Afterwards, they will all have more money in the bank, but from now on just don´t let them tell us about values and fair play”.

Amnesty International contends that the regime’s efforts are insufficient in order to establish a connection with some of the most prestigious clubs in the world. The human rights organization has criticized the ongoing discrimination against women and the systematic abuse of homosexuals.

Esteban Beltrán, president of Amnesty International in Spain, stated,” The fact is that the Spanish soccer federation has decided to cooperate in this’whitewashing’ of the image of Saudi authorities.”

The well-intentioned words of president Rubiales in 2019 ( that the Super Cup would help modernize Saudi Arabia ) are unfortunately far from being realized, given the progress made in these past three years, such as the lifting of the ban on women from driving and their chance to play sports, as well as the creation of a women’s soccer league.

When asked what his position was on Amnesty’s request for the teams to wear the protest armbands, Rubiales claimed that the rights organization had gone public with their campaign days before writing the federation a written request in an effort to” create an uproar.”

Rául Garca, the Bilbao forward, is the only player who has so far spoken out against giving the games to Saudi Arabia. However, he focused his criticism on the inability to play in front of the fans of his team. Bilbao´s win over Atlético drew a much smaller crowd than Wednesday´s” clásico” between Madrid and Barcelona.

The tournament was first held in Saudi Arabia in 2019 just before the pandemic struck. Last year, the federation was forced to return to Spain due to health and travel restrictions, with Bilbao beating Madrid and Barcelona to claim the trophy.

Carlo Ancelotti, coach of Madrid, is aiming for his second title in charge of the Spanish league leaders. Dani Carvajal, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday in Saudi Arabia, will not play for Vincelotti. Vincius Jnior, who is in good form, may be unsure after a muscle problem forced his substitution against Barcelona.

In both the playmaking and attack of Iker Muniain, Bilbao will once again rely on brothers Iaki and Nico Williams.


More AP soccer: website and website FA are criticized for the Saudi Arabian Super Cup.

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