Saudi-based Spanish Super Cup is all about the money: Ernesto Valverde
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has concerns with the new format of the Spanish Super Cup, saying that playing the competition in Saudi Arabia is a consequence of the football industry's desire to find more revenue streams.
The Super Cup traditionally kick-started the season in Spain with a two-legged contest between the Copa del Rey winners and La Liga champions, although the 2018 edition was played as a one-off game in Tangier, Morocco.
Last year, the Spanish football federation (RFEF) agreed to double the number of teams and take the competition away from Spain permanently, as well as moving it from August to January.
The federation has signed a three-year deal to host the competition in Saudi Arabia, which Spanish media say is worth 40 million euros (S$66.1m) annually.
"I know there have been rumblings but football these days is an industry," Valverde said at the pre-match press conference ahead of Barca's semi-final against Atletico Madrid in Jeddah this morning (Singapore time).
"The reason why we are here and why we were in Morocco is because the authorities are looking for more sources of income."
The move has been criticised by supporters' groups for excluding the teams' traditional fanbase, while campaign groups such as Amnesty International have slammed Spanish football chiefs over Saudi Arabia's human rights record.
In yesterday morning's first semi-final, Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos scored directly from a corner as his side booked their place for Monday morning's final by outclassing Valencia 3-1.
Isco and Luka Modric scored either side of half-time to put Zinedine Zidane's side further at ease, before Dani Parejo converted a consolation penalty for last year's Copa del Rey winners in added time. - REUTERS