Spanish football landed in the capital of Saudi Arabia to start its week of the Super Cup. Tickets sold out, but little atmosphere in the streets.
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Between Madrid Y Riad there are 4,961.26 kilometers, a whole world. Two capitals that if they looked at each other in a mirror would be stunned, amazed by their differences. “I come from a city that was on built water, and whose walls of fire are “, they say that he said Gonzlez de Clavijo, ambassador of the Castilian king Henry III, to the emperor Tamerln, one of the greatest conquerors of Central Asia. He was referring to the Manzanares and how the sun focused on the old wall. It was him XV century, but the phrase will fall with the same surprise in the center of the current Saudi arabia, built on the desert sand, with his summer heat in winter, its great avenues with hardly any sidewalks, its well-controlled chaos, its eternal distances between points … and its Spanish Super Cup of 2022.
– I need a connection on my phone for the game, do you sell a data card?
– What game?
– The Barcelona-Real Madrid tomorrow.
– Tomorrow will Barcelona and Real Madrid play here?
The conversation between the Spanish journalists and the Saudi clerk is this Tuesday morning. 34 hours before the quintessential national football classic. But in the center of Riyadh life passes too slowly to speed up the view the next day. For now
Spanish football traveled to the capital of Saudi arabia, he moved away from his local spectators and embarked on a colonizing adventure intended to serve as a source of income and sports expansion, trying to imitate what the Italian football or what other competitions such as the NBA and NFL. Rumors and conversations make it clear that there is Spanish football, and for a while, in this part of the world.
On the flight of Iberia chartered by the Spanish Federation, the most comfortable and safe for transfers of this type, sat Luis rubiales, president of the organization, his assistants, referees, members of the RFEF technical team, sponsors and journalists, received almost like rock stars upon arrival in Riyadh, gift rose included.
The rules governing Saudi Arabia
The charter landed between the Barcelona plane and the Real Madrid plane, so the passport control, carried out by the private flights area, was slow but less inconvenient than any other Monday at the Rey Khalid International Airport. Yes, the complete vaccination letter and negative PCR They are mandatory to step on Saudi soil.
The rest of the rules will sound like: death penalty and flogging as punishments for certain acts. The homosexuality It is a crime of maximum penalty in the area, extramarital affairs prohibited, the possession or distribution of pornography is punishable by prison and drug trafficking with decapitation, and its use and consumption is punishable by public flogging or deportation.
The alcohol consumption is prohibited, with penalties of jail and flogging, men are prohibited wear shorts or shorts above the knees, it is not allowed people of different sex are neither in public nor in private unless there is a family bond between them … And on the subject of women, after the publication of several royal decrees, on August 2 the requirement of authorization of the man to travel was eliminated and obtain a passport from any Saudi woman.
Back to the airport. At the exit, asphalt, a lot of asphalt, the eternal asphalt that covers a city on which luxurious skyscrapers rise and where the neighborhoods, that very characteristic European neighborhood, hardly exist. Between the hotel of the press and King Fahd Stadium there are 18 kilometers, the same as from the hotel Hilton, where Madrid is staying. 27 kilometers to Narcissus Hotel, which is Barcelona, 29 to Burj rafal of the Atltico of Madrid …
The distances in the Saudi capital are eternal and can only be completed by car, unless you are interested in running a marathon. Perhaps that is why, and due to the strict policy of restrictions, the situation of Covid-19 is controlled to think about the increase in infections. In the last 24 hours only one person has died and there have been 4,700 new cases, the mask is mandatory also outdoors and to enter most stores it is necessary to show a government authorization through the Tawakkalna app, where the resident or visitor must indicate their vaccination records.
Closer to the start of the press conferences and training sessions for Barcelona and Real Madrid, the teams that open the Super Cup this Wednesday, the televisions and the local media begin to warm up the atmosphere. Even the driver of one of the taxis dares to break out Spanish: “Madrid, good!”. In an hour, Saudi fans have exhausted 30,000 entries put up for sale for the classic, 50% of the stadium’s capacity, but on the street the atmosphere was still quite dry, like the weather.
Some followers have gathered at the doors of the hotels in Madrid and Bara s, but timidly and without creating the expected classic atmosphere. All interrupted, yes, by the call to prayer in Islam, the ‘Azn‘, which depends on the city, can be done once or several times a day. In the West this proclamation is made inside mosques, but in Arab countries it can be heard throughout the city.
As of this Wednesday, football will finally begin: Atltico de Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Athletic Club for the first title of the Spanish season … In Arabia.
Reference from elmundo