Populist Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has slammed Saudi Arabia, the host of the Italian football Super Cup, for not allowing single women to attend the match without a man accompanying them.
Salvini said that he would not be attending or even watching the match which pits Juventus against AC Milan despite being an AC Milan supporter, Il Giornale reports.
“I won’t watch that match,” Salvini said and added, “Soccer is a slave to business and television.”
The match, which is set to be held on January 16th in Jeddah, has been hailed by Serie A president Gaetano Micciche as a “historic” match that could drive Saudi women to take up the sport.
Along with Salvini, several other politicians have criticised the choice of location for the match such as Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni who said, “Women can only go in the family areas, not alone, because Islam does not allow it, so an Italian woman who wanted to buy a ticket to watch the game alone or with a group of friends can not do it.”
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“That is disgusting. Have we sold centuries of European civilisation and battles for the rights of women for money to the Saudis?” she added.
Others have called for the game to be moved due to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi including human rights groups such as Amnesty International.
Another football tournament is also the set to take place in the Middle East in Qatar in 2022 with the country doubling the price of alcohol in a so-called “sin tax.”
The remarks by Salvini come as the populist leader continues to forge alliances among other conservative and populist leaders across Europe including the recent announcement of a meeting between Salvini and Polish Law and Justice (PiS) party leader Jarosław Kaczyński. The pair is expected to discuss a possible alliance ahead of the European Parliament elections in May.