RTVE won’t bid for Spanish Super Cup amid Saudi human rights concerns

15 November 2019 | Broadcasting & New Media
RTVE won’t bid for Spanish Super Cup amid Saudi human rights concerns
Spanish public broadcaster RTVE won’t bid for media rights for the Spanish Super Cup soccer tournament due to be held in Saudi Arabia next month, citing concerns over human rights violations in the region.

Spain’s Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed earlier this week that it has struck a three-year deal to play the revamped competition in Saudi Arabia, with Spanish soccer giants Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Valencia set to contest the first edition in January.

Despite RFEF President Luis Rubiales remaining defiant on his decision to take the competition in Saudi Arabia, the move has confronted widespread criticism, while the federation’s broadcast rights tender for the tournament’s 2019/20-2021/22 cycle was also challenged by the Spanish competitions watchdog this week.

RTVE’s Head of Sport Jesus Alvarez said: “RTVE will not join the bidding to buy the rights to broadcast the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia because this country violates human rights, especially women’s rights in the area of sport.

“It’s a country where until very recently women couldn’t go to watch football. Human rights are fundamental to this corporation, which has made a big push for women’s sport in the last few years.”

Speaking at the announcement of Saudi Arabia as hosts for the tournament on 11th November, RFEF president Luis Rubiales said he could guarantee women would be able to attend without restrictions.

“Our idea is that football can be a tool of social change,” he said. “There will be people who are for and against this decision, but we are certain we have made the right move.”

Rubiales added that, by taking the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia, the federation would be working to highlight “difficult situations” and could help to “transform society”.

LaLiga President Javier Tebas does not see it the same way. He recently told SportsPro that dealing with a country that is “flying the flag for piracy” and has “a good deal of humans rights concerns” would be damaging to Spanish soccer and its top-flight club competition.

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