Supercoppa Italiana heads to Saudi Arabia for second year running

Supercoppa Italiana heads to Saudi Arabia for second year running
Lega Serie A, the governing body for the top flight of Italian club soccer, has confirmed that the Supercoppa Italiana will be held in Saudi Arabia for the second consecutive year.

The annual fixture, which pits the reigning Serie A champions against the winners of the previous season’s Coppa Italia, will be played at Riyadh’s King Saud University Stadium on 22nd December.

The match, which this year will see Juventus take on Lazio, will be the second in a deal signed in 2018 between Serie A and Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority (GSA), which calls for three editions of the Supercoppa Italiana to be held in the gulf nation over five years.

Last season’s Supercoppa Italiana was held at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, where Juventus beat AC Milan 1-0.

However, Serie A’s deal to take the showpiece fixture to the Middle East has been widely criticised, not least by Qatar-based broadcaster BeIN Sports, which last year wrote to the league’s chief executive Luigi de Siervo, requesting that Serie A reconsider its decision due to the ongoing piracy scandal involving BeoutQ.

BeoutQ, whose pirate broadcasts have been distributed by Riyadh-based satellite provider Arabsat, has been stealing the feeds of various major sports broadcasters including BeIN, which holds the rights to Serie A in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Incidentally, Serie A was one of several elite soccer bodies to issue a joint statement in July condemning BeoutQ and calling on authorities in Saudi Arabia to help bring down the pirate operation. The group of rights holders, which also included Fifa, Uefa and the Premier League, had commissioned an investigative report by industry body MarkMonitor, which confirmed ‘without question’ that BeoutQ was being transmitted by Arabsat.

Yousef Al-Obaidly, BeIN Media Group’s chief executive, has been uncompromising in his words towards Serie A for enabling the Saudi piracy operation.

Speaking at the recent Leaders Summit in London, Al-Obaidly attacked Serie A and the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) for hosting their Super Cup games in "the very country that has been stealing the commercial rights of all their broadcast partners for over two years, destroying the value of the Italian and Spanish game in the process."

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