NEWS
Thursday January 3 2019
Micciche defends Saudi Supercoppa

Lega Serie A President Micciché defends the decision to play the Supercoppa in Saudi Arabia, “and I want to clarify that women will be able to enter the game alone”.

Juventus and Milan will face off for the trophy in Jeddah later this month, but the decision to play in the Middle Eastern nation has been criticised by human rights groups.

In addition, there are areas of the stadium which are only open to men, with women only allowed to attend matches since January last year.

The ticket map indicated there were “single” areas and “family” areas, with women only allowed to sit in the latter.

Many worried that meant female fans wouldn’t be allowed to attend the Supercoppa unless accompanied by a man.

Until recently women weren’t allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and they still can’t use public swimming pools or go out in public without a headscarf.

“Dear fans and those passionate about Italian football,” Micchiché wrote in a statement.

“I think it’s right to take stock of the decision of the Lega Serie A, and all the associated clubs, to play the next Supercoppa Italiana on January 16 in Jeddah.

“This trophy, since the first overseas edition in 1993, has been used to export and promote Italian football around the world.

“We’ve played this competition twice in the United States, four times in China, as well as in Qatar and Libya.

“The choice to take calcio to places which are different in terms of culture and type of government is not just an Italian decision, but has other international examples because sport increasingly needs global audiences to grow.

“The Khashoggi case [where a journalist was murdered in a Saudi embassy], which took place in October and therefore months after the agreement was found, placed the choice of Saudi Arabia in the spotlight and, as is right, the Lega Serie A questioned what the right thing to do was.

“Football is part of the Italian economic and cultural system, and can’t have logic. especially in international relations, different from those of the country to which it belongs.

“Saudi Arabia is the largest Italian commercial partner in the Middle East thanks to dozens of important Italian companies that export and operate there, with many of our compatriots working Saudi Arabia, and none of these relations have been disrupted.

“Football cannot put itself in a place of authority on international politics, nor can it make choices which don’t respect the system of the country.

“On the contrary, it provides fundamental support for the concept of Made in Italy and its values.

“Football doesn’t play politics but it has a social role, in this case a vehicle of union and commonality among peoples which has no equal in any other sector.

“Within a few hours of pre-sales the Jeddah Supercoppa sold out, an event of international importance for which the local fans wait with great enthusiasm.

“With the approval of FIFA, UEFA and the Asian Confederation we are going to play an official football competition in a country with its own laws, which have been set for years, where local traditions impose constraints that can not be changed from day to night.

“I am optimistic by nature, and I look to the future and the steps already taken with confidence.

“The will of the local organisers is immediately clear in this respect, in Saudi Arabia in recent weeks they’ve organised a series of sporting events to gradually open up to the world.

“For a long time Saudi Arabia didn’t give tourist visas, but football has surpassed those constraints, and those who want to come from abroad to watch the match can do thanks to a visa which is linked to their match ticket.

“Every change requires time, patience and willingness to talk with faraway worlds.

“Until last year, women could not attend any sporting event and for several months now they’ve had access to large areas of the stadium, which they’ve started to enthusiastically attend.

“We’re working to ensure that the next editions will be played in a country where all the seats are accessible to everyone.

“And I want to clarify that women will be able to enter the game alone without any man accompanying them, as has been erroneously written by those who want to exploit this.

“Our Supercoppa will be remembered as the first international sporting competition which women can watch live.”

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