Amnesty International and the journalists union for Italian state TV RAI have written a joint letter to the presidents of Juventus and Lazio asking the clubs not to the play the Italian Super Cup in Saudi Arabia because of the country’s human rights record.
The letter sent Tuesday states that "despite a big media campaign put forth by the Saudi government to validate a country working on reforms, the human rights situation remains extremely worrisome. While the ban on women driving was abolished and the institute of the ‘male guardian’ for which every personal and public choice regarding women was reformed, the activists who promoted those campaigns are languishing in prison."
Amnesty and the RAI union also protested over last season’s Super Cup, which was played in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The Italian league has a contract with Saudi Arabia to play three Super Cups in the country over five years.
Serie A says the plan is to play this season’s game in Saudi Arabia in either December or January, with a date likely to be agreed on later this month. The league had no comment on the letter from Amnesty and the RAI union, which was not sent to Serie A.
Italian politicians and human rights activists also objected to last season’s game being played in Saudi Arabia, citing the assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
But the match went ahead at a sold-out King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in front of more than 61,000 fans, including many women who were only allowed into Saudi sports stadiums a year earlier for the first time to watch soccer matches.
Juventus beat AC Milan 1-0 in last season’s match in January.
The annual match pits the Serie A champion against the Italian Cup champion.