Spanish Cup rivals Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao want fans at final
The Spanish football federation (RFEF) expressed its support for a call Monday by the Spanish Cup finalists Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao for the final to be played with fans in the ground.
The clubs said in a joint press release that they had met with Luis Rubiales, the president of the RFEF, who had agreed to ask the general assembly on May 8, if the final could be played with open doors.
The RFEF immediately responded with a statement of its own, saying that it "fully shares the desire" of the two clubs to play the final "when health and sporting circumstances allow... open to the public and in the presence of fans and all those who wish to attend".
This would be the first all-Basque final in the history of the competition.
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"The desire and will of both clubs have always been, now and before, to play and enjoy the final match along with the supporters," they said in a joint English-language press release. "This is what we would like most. A final to be lived with our supporters in the stands."
The match was originally scheduled for April 18 in Seville at the Olympic Stadium, known as La Cartuja.
Announcing the postponement in March, Rubiales said: "The aim is for La Cartuja to be full of people."
No new date has been fixed. The Spanish league remains suspended and clubs have not been able to return to training.
Even so, the two Basque clubs said they wanted guarantees that "the final will be played as an official competition and will, therefore, be considered an official title."
The RFEF also supported that request, saying it will take steps to ensure the final was "an official competition at the appropriate time during 2020 or 2021 and before the Final of the 2020/2021 season."
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It said it would agree with the two clubs "the most convenient date for this Final to be a great celebration of Spanish football."
The governing body of European football (UEFA) has said that places in next season's continental club competitions will be awarded "on sporting merit", if domestic competitions cannot be completed.
Real Sociedad, fourth in La Liga when play was suspended, would qualify for the Champions League. But, without a cup final, the last Spanish Europa League place would probably go to the team seventh in the table. Athletic, 10th in the standings, have said they are in "deep disagreement" with this solution.
Bilbao won the inaugural Spanish cup in 1903 and have lifted the trophy 23 times, second only to Barcelona, but their last triumph was in 1984. Real Sociedad have won the Copa del Rey twice.
Bilbao eliminated Barcelona in the quarterfinals while Real Sociedad put out Real Madrid.
The clubs said that by sharing the final "together with their fans, supporters, subscribers, members, and partners" they would be celebrating "the true essence, and raison d'etre of this wonderful sport".
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Ander Gillenea