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The new Supercoppa Italiana is a problem

Both the decision to turn it into a Final Four and to organise it in Saudi Arabia

The new Supercoppa Italiana is a problem Both the decision to turn it into a Final Four and to organise it in Saudi Arabia

The Lega Calcio has decided to change the format of the Italian Super Cup, at least for next year, and turn the dry Spanish-style game into a Final Four. The top two finishers in the league and the finalists in the Italian Cup will thus face each other in Saudi Arabia in January 2024, where six of the next six editions will be held. It was CEO De Siervo who explained the terms of the new agreement with the Arab nation, which continues to be linked to our football: 'We have decided to accept Arabia's offer to host four editions of the Super Cup in six years. The next competition will already include four teams and the format will also include a friendly match abroad. The choice of format may be questioned year after year and will be determined depending on the commitments and schedules of the participants. Next season, the four-team Super Cup will bring in 23 million viewers, while with a single match and a friendly, the figure will drop to 12 million".

Basic money for the endangered finances of the Italian clubs, which were at a standstill during the January market and complained of severe economic losses, but which have already given rise to numerous controversies. The first and most important one is related to the confirmation of Saudi Arabia as the host of the competition to crown the best Italian team. The Arab state is indeed very active in European football, having recently bought Newcastle United and made Cristiano Ronaldo its testimonial, and sponsoring various competitions, including the Spanish Super Cup. So here is the idea of further promoting the loyalty of the domestic competition, for a government that is constantly looking for new ways to expand and purify its influence through sport.

And it is precisely this sporting wash that various federations are complaining about and asking not to cooperate with a regime that does not respect basic human rights. Riccardo Noury, President of Amnesty International Italy, said how "this very effective form of marketing, sports washing: the more credit given to the Saudi authorities because they have money to host sporting events, the more the terrible human rights situation in that country will continue to be ignored. The Lega Serie A is complicit in a system that tends to deny and cover up human rights violations through sporting events." After the Qatar case for the 2022 World Cup, football does not seem to have too much trouble accepting money in return for moving its travelling spectacle to new scenarios.

On the other hand, it is precisely the many problems of Italian football, starting with its lack of liquidity, that make it so vulnerable. The idea of expanding a competition that has become less and less attractive in recent years in an increasingly crowded calendar met with little approval, almost as much as holding it in the desert. A solution less in line with the 'football is for the fans' claim that has often been used against any change to the current model was hard to find. So, in order to preserve a model that daily reveals its structural problems, football is alienated from its population and sold at a bargain price to the highest bidder, paid without much difficulty by the Gulf emirates at this moment in history. An addiction that over the years could prove even more misguided than being associated today with a regime that uses the most beautiful sport in the world to sweep its dust under our carpets.