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Copa del Rey

2020 Copa del Rey final: why was the Real Sociedad – Athletic final delayed?

Real Sociedad and Athletic Club will meet in the Copa del Rey final at La Cartuja in Seville on Saturday – last year’s final which was rescheduled.

2020 Copa del Rey final: why was the Real Sociedad – Athletic final delayed?
Julio Muñoz EFE

Real Sociedad and Athletic Club will contest the Copa del Rey at La Cartuja in Seville later today. It will be the first time that the two Basque sides have met in a Cup final since 1910 and although originally both clubs had hoped that fans would be able to attend, unfortunately that will not be the case.

Athletic Club vs Real Sociedad Copa del Rey final: LIVE

2020 Copa del Rey final to be played during the official football calendar 

The 2020 Copa del Rey final between Athletic and Real Sociedad was due to take place on 18 April in Seville, but was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez declared a state of emergency starting from 14 March 2020 It was lifted on 21 June but during that time, almost all sporting events in Spain were cancelled – including LaLiga games (which resumed, with games played behind closed doors, on 11 June).

It meant that the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) had to find a new date for the final, or postpone it for an available window outside of the official calendar, which last year, ended on 3 August. Presidents from both clubs Aitor Elizegi and Jokin Aperribay discussed the matter with RFEF president Luis Rubiales in early May 2020 and decided that the final should be played during the official calendareven if that meant pushing it over into the following season. In doing so however, both finalists would forfeit the qualifying place for this year’s Europa League. That place ended up going to the team which finished seventh in last season’s LaLiga campaign – Granada.

Fans unable to attend

Elizegi and Aperribay also agreed that the final should be delayed until a time when fans from both clubs could attend. Unfortunately, that has not been possible – the final decision could only be made at government level and Spain's Minster for Health Carolina Darias declared last month that the final would go ahead as planned on 3 April, but without the public. “It is not appropriate, it is not the right moment and it is not advisable – we are talking about over 10,000 people and that is just not possible,” she explained.