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Mediapro shuns bid for rights to Saudi Supercopa

Spanish agency and production group Mediapro has become the latest media company to announce it will not pursue rights to the Supercopa club football competition, following its switch to Saudi Arabia.

Mediapro initially declared its stance in response to a viewer’s question on the ‘El golazo de la mañana’ programme of its pay-television channel Gol TV. The agency later clarified its position in a statement issued to Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia.

The statement read: “We publicly confirm that we will not bid for the broadcasting rights. The decision has been taken because this company will never tolerate a sports competition in a country like Saudi Arabia, where human rights are violated.”

Relations between the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and Mediapro are particularly sour. The agency and production group is considering a legal bid for damages in the wake of the Copa del Rey rights sales process, from which Mediapro pulled out in protest after the second round.

Mediapro’s decision comes after commercial duo Atresmedia and Mediaset were last week reported to be the latest broadcasters to shy away from a bid for domestic rights to the Supercopa, following the RFEF’s decision to take the club competition to Saudi Arabia.

Atresmedia and Mediaset both decided against bidding, according to Spanish newspaper El Español, believing that the competition is not a priority as the rights are considered unprofitable.

Public-service broadcaster RTVE has already stated it will not bid for the rights as to do so would be “incompatible” with its constitutional principles. RTVE, which operates the flagship TVE channels, cited human rights concerns as a factor in its decision, in particular the rights of women in Saudi Arabia.

On November 11, the RFEF announced a lucrative three-year hosting deal with the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, estimated to be worth €120m ($132m) over three years (from 2019-20 to 2021-22). Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Atlético Madrid will take part in the revamped event, which will reportedly take place from January 8-12 at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.

The Supercopa has traditionally been played as a two-legged affair in August and has been broadcast by TVE. The CNMC, Spain’s competition watchdog, has claimed that the RFEF’s domestic and international Supercopa invitations to tender violate the 2015 Royal Decree which governs the sale of broadcast rights in Spain.

Nevertheless, the RFEF last week issued the tender documents for the domestic and international rights sales processes. The RFEF has issued bid deadlines of November 28 for domestic and international broadcast rights to the Supercopa. Broadcast rights on offer cover the 2019-20 to 2021-22 period, matching the contract term in place with Saudi authorities.

The stance taken by Mediapro, Atresmedia, Mediaset and RTVE could leave subscription OTT platform DAZN and telecoms operator Telefónica as the only realistic contenders for the domestic rights.