UEFA Could Require The Copa Del Rey Final To Be Played This Season Behind Closed Doors
Uncertainty has surrounded the Copa del Rey final ever since it was announced that the historic match would be postponed due to the current pandemic. At first plans were being made to hold the game in July, then August, all with the goal of waiting until fans could safely attend. After the Andalusian government got involved an agreement was made that the final would not be played until fans were allowed in the stands, but that may end up being overruled.
UEFA have since provided guidelines for domestic leagues and Federations for how to finish the current campaign and have required that all games be played if at all possible, even if that means doing so behind closed doors. The only stipulations given is if a government rules that matches are not allowed take place or for severe financial loss.
Part of the reason for UEFA’s request to complete all competitions is to properly determine which clubs will qualify for Europe next season. It was originally agreed that both Athletic and Real Sociedad would be given a place in Europe if the Cup final wasn’t played until next year, but voluntarily postponing the game if it’s possible to play it behind closed doors could come with the penalty of European qualification being refused.
Both clubs, along with the Spanish Football Federation, have been adamant that they didn’t want the final to take place without fans. However, UEFA’s announcement may have just made that impossible. According to a report from Ángel López of Mundo Deportivo, talks of moving the venue further north are already taking place.
If the final must be played without fans then both clubs would prefer it to be held closer to the Basque Country to limit the amount of travel to Seville, where it was originally set to take place at La Cartuja. Mendizorrotza, the home of Alavés in the Basque capital of Vitoria-Gasteiz, could be a favorable venue. Wednesday, 5 August is also being discussed as a potential date for the final.
No decisions have been made at this point and it’s possible that the final could still be postponed until next season. The Andalusian government’s request that the match wait until fans can attend might be enough to meet UEFA’s stipulation as an acceptable reason for postponing a match.
Athletic remain resolute that the final shouldn’t be played without fans. At this point everything is dependent on the Spanish government giving permission for football to return, but there are sure to be more negotiations and planning in the weeks ahead. In the end, Athletic will likely have to choose between playing the final behind closed doors with a win earning Europe, or playing it with fans next season while needing to finish the current campaign in the top seven to qualify for Europe.