The 2023 Supercoppa Italiana officially kicked off on Thursday, Jan. 18. Although the annual tournament consists of top Italian Serie A clubs, the current iteration of the competition is taking place in Saudi Arabia.

Soccer officials in the Middle Eastern nation reportedly agreed to host the tournament for a reported fee of $138 million. In the agreement, the Supercoppa Italiana goes to Saudi Arabia until 2029. The proposal was nearly three times the fee that previous hosts had paid to hold the competition.

Cup format changed ahead of the current competition

The Supercoppa Italiana traditionally pits the most recent Serie A winner against the latest team to collect the Coppa Italia. This means that Napoli and Inter Milan would face off for the trophy in Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, the current format of the competition changed to include two more Italian clubs.

Along with the winners of the two aforementioned trophies, the 2023 Supercoppa Italiana will also include the runners-up in each competition. This means that four total teams are set to battle for the trophy in Saudi Arabia.

As a result of the expansion, Lazio and Fiorentina are included in the competition. Lazio finished 16 points behind Napoli in last season’s Serie A standings. On the other hand, Inter narrowly defeated Fiorentina 2-1 in the cup final back in May.

Napoli and Fiorentina started the Supercoppa Italiana on Friday in the first match of the tournament. Napoli won by a comfortable margin, 3-0. Now, the defending Scudetto winners will face the winner between Inter and Lazio. The two play one another on Friday, Jan. 19. The final is on Tuesday, Jan. 22. All three matchups at Al-Awwal Park in Riyadh.

The winning team of the tournament reportedly receives $8 million. The other finalist earns around $5 million, and the two losing semifinalists grab $1.5 million each.

Select Saudi journalists supposedly want Juve, Milan at Supercoppa

The format changes are fairly clear. Yet, recent reports suggest the miniature tournament confused some Saudi journalists. According to Repubblica, select reporters in the Middle Eastern nation have asked Italian officials why AC Milan and Juventus are not participating in the competition.

Serie A CEO Luigi De Siervo answered the question. The executive reviewed the updated formula of the Supercoppa Italiana for the journalists. Siervo then even ensured the reporters that the game “between Napoli and Fiorentina will be a beautiful match.”

Both AC Milan and Juve have large followings in Saudi Arabia. After all, the dynamic duo has collected more Serie A titles than any other Italian side. Without the two popular clubs, attendance figures could be fairly disappointing at the tournament.

Along with the absence of Milan and Juve, there were previous suggestions that Fiorentina and Napoli were not happy about the scheduling of the competition. The latter duo was even considering boycotting the matches. Milan and Atalanta were direct replacements for the two teams. Nevertheless, both Fiorentina and Napoli will take part in the tournament.