Saudi Arabia to stage four-team Spanish Super Cup

MADRID (AP) — Saudi Arabia will stage a newly expanded four-team Spanish Super Cup for the first time in January.

The Spanish Football Federation cited its ambitions to host the 2030 World Cup as a factor in giving Saudi Arabia a three-year deal on Monday.

Spain’s football body said its agreement with Saudi counterparts included a guarantee of “access without restrictions” for female fans to the Super Cup games.

Football could be an engine to drive social change, the federation said, and help position Spain as a candidate for the 2030 World Cup. Spain and Portugal have talked about teaming up to repeat their joint bid for the 2018 edition, won by Russia.

The Spanish Super Cup was previously a one-off match between the Liga and Copa del Rey champions at the start of the season. But the federation has changed it to semifinals and final featuring four teams — the top teams in each competition — in the middle of the season.

Real Madrid will face Copa del Rey holder Valencia in the first semifinal on January 8 at King Abdullah Sports City stadium outside Jeddah, then Liga champion Barcelona play Atletico Madrid in the second semi the next day at the same venue.