Women are considered second-class citizens, always under the supervision of men and “forced to obey their husbands”, according to Amnesty International. Homosexuality is prohibited and persecuted, even punishable by death. Rights to freedom of expression and association censored by authorities. All this in Saudi Arabia, the country that will host the Spanish Super Cup for the fourth time starting this Wednesday and in which Real Madrid, Atlético, Osasuna and FC Barcelona will compete to win it after an agreement of 40 million per edition until 2029. A figure which lands in the coffers of the Royal Spanish Football Federation and which it distributes between the participating teams. Precisely, the culé club is at the center of controversies after having published a series of recommendations to supporters and members who will travel to Riyadh for the competition.
“It is recommended to show respect and caution in public behavior and displays of affection. Indecent behavior, including any act of a sexual nature, could have legal consequences for foreigners. Relations between people of the same sex and demonstrations of support for the LGTBI community, even on social networks, can also give rise to sanctions,” he specifies, among other things. The Barcelona Declaration.
“It is inconceivable that recommendations are made in the logic of an oppressive country, to the point of depriving its freedoms,” declared Eugeni Rodríguez, president of the Observatori contra l’LGTBI-fòbia. From the organization they addressed the defender of the member and the management of Barça. The Barça club assures that these are the recommendations sent to it by the Spanish embassy, and that its commitment to the rights of the LGTBIQ+ group has not changed. But participation in the competition and the issuance of recommendations are contrary to article 4.3 of the Barça Statutes: “The club will ensure the protection and promotion of the universal declaration of human rights included in the international charter of human rights proclaimed by the United Nations. An article incorporated in 2021 under the second mandate of Joan Laporta, and which added that the club “will promote the democratic values of equality and non-discrimination”, in addition to fighting for “the eradication of all sexist, homophobic practices and racist. attitudes”.
“When we saw it, we were surprised. This is not what we are used to receiving from Barça. This shows that we have to continue working,” said Alberto Martín, president of Panteras Grogues, an LGTBI sports club that has collaborated with the Barça club for two years. “We wonder why these competitions are taking place in these countries, why the Federation brings a local competition to these places. Do human rights have a price?” added Martín.
It is the former president of the Spanish Football Federation, Luis Rubiales, prosecuted for sexual harassment against Jennifer Hermoso, who, with Gerard Piqué, proposed taking the local competition to the Middle East. And it is precisely from the RFEF that it tried to promote initiatives within the framework of the “Football is the way” campaign on the occasion of the celebration of the Super Cup: courses for female coaches – with the presence from coach Montse Tomé -, interviews and meetings with the senior Saudi women’s team, created barely two years ago. A set of orchestrated actions with which they clean up the image of Spanish football by traveling to Arabia. “We believe that economic interests, for ethical reasons, transcend human rights barriers,” Rodríguez concluded. From Wednesday, Barça, Real Madrid, Atlético and Osasuna will compete in the fourth Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia. All amid controversies.