Rai journalists want Supercopa taken away from Saudi Arabia
Usigrai, the union of journalists at Rai, the Italian public-service broadcaster, has launched an appeal against the decision of Serie A to stage the Supercopa de Italia, the annual contest between the winners of Serie A and the Coppa Italia, in Saudi Arabia in January.
The clash between Juventus and Milan is scheduled for 16 January in Jeddah, the first year in a three-year deal between Serie A and the ministry of sports in Saudi Arabia to stage the game in the Middle East country.
Reports have indicated that the two clubs will earn €3.2 million ($3.65 million) each from the match.
The Supercopa, which usually takes place in August, has been held outside Italy on various occasions, with cities in USA, Libya, China and Qatar among the hosts, but the opposition comes amid the diplomatic stand-off over the involvement of Saudi Arabia in the disappearance of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.
The Supercopa clash is due to be televised in Italy by Rai, whose journalists union said in a statement: "Let's say no to the Italian Super Cup in Saudi Arabia. It is absurd and unacceptable that the Lega Calcio has chosen to play in that country, less than three months after the assassination of the journalist Khashoggi."
It continued: "Since Rai has the exclusive rights of this match and considering our role as a public-service broadcaster... we ask the board of Lega Calcio to get back on track and not to play the match in Saudi Arabia."
Usigrai urged Serie A and the two competing clubs to "give up those millions of euros" and play the game in an Italian city that has suffered tragedy in recent months, such as Palermo, where floods have caused destruction, or Genoa, where a bridge collapse claimed over 40 lives.
Meanwhile, the RFEF, the Spanish soccer federation, has claimed to have received multiple offers from countries to stage its Supercopa in 2019.
China and Qatar have offered the most lucrative proposals, according to reports in Spain, while a bid has also come in from, intriguingly, USA.
The RFEF is already engaged in a battle with LaLiga, which is aiming to stage an annual top-flight game in USA, beginning with Girona-Barcelona in Miami in January.
This season’s Supercopa between Barcelona and Sevilla was played in Tangier in Morocco.
Elsewhere, the LFP, the French professional soccer league, has announced that the 16 December clash between Lyon and Monaco will now kick-off at 1pm (CET) to appeal to Asian audiences.
The LFP said it had reached agreement with both clubs and the two domestic broadcasters, Canal Plus and BeIN Sports, to bring the kick-off time forward. It means the game will start at 8pm in China.
In March, Ligue 1 claimed an audience record in China for coverage of the match between Nice and Paris Saint-Germain, which was also moved to 1pm.
That match attracted a total of 1.6 million viewers in China, 16 times higher than the average for a Ligue 1 match.
Didier Quillot, executive director of the LFP, said: "This initiative demonstrates the growing interest of the Chinese public for the Ligue 1 Conforama, which benefits in China from an unparalleled exposure thanks to the broadcasting agreements signed with the CCTV and PPTV groups. After the Paris Saint-Germain and the OGC Nice last year, this new programme will be a new opportunity to offer a very strong exposure to the Ligue 1 Conforama through two French clubs in the Champions League, and who benefit as such from a strong international reputation."