Iñigo Martinez “It Can’t Be A Cup Final Without Our Fans”
Playing the Copa Del Rey final behind closed doors may end up being the only way the match can take place. With a European place on the line, the final can only be postponed so long. However, the Spanish Football Federation and both clubs are adamant that they will do everything in their power to ensure that fans will be able to attend and are willing to wait as long as long as possible.
Current and former players has been understandably outspoken about the topic. “The option of playing the Cup final behind closed doors is totally ruled out by both clubs and the players,” said Athletic defender Iñigo Martínez during an interview with DAZN.
Even though it may be a possibility, Martinez reiterates that no one is thinking about it right now. “It can’t be a Cup final without our fans. It would be strange and we aren’t considering it. Let’s hope that everything changes, that we can live a unique and historical moment. Having both fans, ours and theirs, would be something impressive.”
Apart from players having the support one the field, the fans also deserve to be in the stands for the historic match. Martinez went as far to call on others to stand together against playing behind closed doors.
“The fans of both sides would obviously give a lot to the players on the field. It wouldn’t be the same to play without an audience. What’s more, we should plant ourselves there because who knows when two Basques teams will reach another final. It’s very important for everyone, the La Real fans and those here. It’s very important to unite everyone and enjoy the moment as we enjoy every Derby.”
In hopes of being able to finish domestic seasons, but also because of necessity, EURO 2020 has been moved to next summer. Martinez was expected to be in the Spain squad but says the decision had to be made given the current circumstances.
“It was a shame to have to cancel EURO 2020 because I had options to be in the team. I’m not talking about serious options, but there were options because I had been in practically every call. I had the possibility to go and it’s a shame not be to be able to go this year and play, but logically it had to happen. Everything had to be stopped because the important thing about all this is the health of the athletes and fans who were going to attend all the games.”
The immediate future of football is uncertain but Athletic, Real Sociedad, and the RFEF are determined to find a way to safely play the Cup final with fans even if it has to take place later this year. At the same time, some have begun to call for the match to be moved to the Basque Country to limit travel and the three parties are having regular conversations about possible ideas and plans.