Spanish Super Cup set to move abroad in new final four format

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Barcelona's Lionel Messi lifts the trophy as he celebrates winning the Spanish Super Cup with teammates after beating Sevilla 2-1 in Tangier, Morocco, in this August 12, 2018, photo.

The Spanish Super Cup will be expanded to four teams, with two semifinals and a final all to be played outside the country under a transformation proposed by Spanish Football Federation, or RFEF, President Luis Rubiales on Tuesday.

The revamped Super Cup is set to start in August of this year, with the winners and runners-up of both La Liga and the Copa del Rey qualifying under the new format, Rubiales, who became RFEF president in May 2018, said.

In the event that a team qualifies both through the league and the Copa del Rey, the vacant place would be taken by the team with the best historical record in the Copa del Rey that had not already qualified for the Super Cup.

"We see an opportunity to promote the brand of Spain without attacking sporting principles," Rubiales told a news conference, without giving details of where the games in the "final four" format event would take place.

The plans must first be approved by the federation's assembly at a meeting in April, he said, adding that the RFEF plans to open a global center of excellence for referees in Madrid and create a committee to fight homophobia in football.

Rubiales broke with tradition last year by turning the traditional season clash between the La Liga champion and the Copa del Rey winner from a two-legged tie into a single game played in Tangier, Morocco, where Barcelona beat Sevilla 2-1.

Rubiales opposes La Liga's plans to play Spanish top flight games abroad and his organization blocked a proposal to move a game between Girona and Barcelona last month to Miami.

Barcelona withdrew from the proposed Miami game, citing a lack of consensus, although its president Josep Maria Bartomeu said he would like to see three La Liga games a season abroad.

Rubiales said he saw no contradiction between moving the Super Cup abroad and "the basic principle that a home team should always play at their ground".

"FIFA was very clear about opposing the Miami game. If they change their criteria we will have to do what they say but we still believe you break with the essence of sport if you prevent a team playing at home for financial motives."

Although Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid take part in the International Champions Cup, preseason friendlies against Europe's top sides played in the United States and Asia, Rubiales said having a trophy at stake was important for fans.

"Neutral tournaments played in summer do not produce the same excitement among supporters," he added.

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