By Gavin Gibbon
Spanish Football Federation to earn $134m from three-year deal to play competition in Gulf kingdom
Real Madrid and Barcelona are set to receive $6.72 million each for their part in this week’s Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia.
If the two bitter rivals set up an El Clasico final in Jeddah on Sunday, they’re pay cheque could go up to $11m apiece.
While other key protagonists, Valencia and Atletico Madrid, will both pocket a cool $3.36m; and the Spanish Football Federation will earn $134m for taking the competition 6,400km away from Spain to be played in the kingdom for the next three years.
President Luis Rubiales said: "The money we will get is not for building a villa. It will go to women's football and the clubs in Segunda B and Tercera. Of course money is important, who can deny that? Money is very important but the money will go where it is needed."
Real Madrid, who will be without injured star trio Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard, face in-form Valencia in the first semi-final on Wednesday night; while Barcelona’s match against Atletico Madrid, which has sold out, will kick off on Thursday night.
Agreements have been reached between the RFEF and the Spanish authorities to ensure women will have free access to the King Abdullah Stadium, where all three fixtures will be played.
In January 2018, women were allowed to enter a stadium to watch football in Saudi Arabia for the first time.
"Women can enter all these events," the Saudi ambassador to Spain, Mansour Bin Khalid Al Farhan Al-Saud, told Marca last month. "That is what I mean when I say there is ignorance. You have false ideas about our country. There is no limitation for women in our country."
Fans from Spain appear unlikely to make the 10-hour trip to Jeddah, which would cost them close to 1,000 euros in flights and accommodation combined.
According to Spanish newspaper El Mundo on Monday, only 1,076 of 12,000 tickets had been sold, with Valencia selling just 26. "Nobody wants to go to the Spanish Super Cup", read El Mundo's headline.
Real Madrid and Barcelona sit level on points at the top of La Liga and all four clubs will be eager to avoid injuries, with each of them involved in the Champions League knock-out stage, which begins next month.
Switching the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia comes as the kingdom has thrown its doors open to the world of sport. Last year saw the inaugural Saudi International golf tournament, while Formula E continued to gain in popularity. In terms of football, Argentina played Brazil in a friendly match and Lazio defeated Juventus in the Italian Super Cup in Riyadh last month. Diriyah hosted the heavyweight boxing rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz in December and the kingdom is currently hosting the famous Dakar Rally.