One thing is sure: the final of the 2012 Copa del Rey will be played between Football Club Barcelona and Bilbao’s Athletic Club. The game might be played on May 20th but in all probability the date will be Friday 25th May. It seems very likely that the match will take place at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium though a plethora of possible venues have been mentioned including two that are not even in Spain, and this is after all the Spanish King’s Cup!
When Barça and Athletic qualified for the final they both had to send representatives to Madrid to state their preference for where to play. Both clubs would like to play the game in the biggest possible stadium so that as many of their fans as possible can enjoy the occasion, so logically they asked for Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium. In 2009, the same teams met in the final in Valencia and there were many thousands of fans disappointed as Mestalla only holds 55,000. There has been no official reply from Real Madrid but it seems they have made it known that they don’t want to host the event. So since then apart from Mestalla and the Bernabeu we have heard the names of Camp Nou Sant Denis, Wembley, La Cartuja, the Vicente Calderon and Espanyol’s Cornella-El Prat as possibilities.
Real Madrid have been made to look a bit petty in all this. They like to take the title of “un club señor” but they are turning down the chance to host a very prestigious football match while making a few bob in the process, basically because they don’t like us. The fact that they leak a couple of half-arsed excuses about construction work while not giving any official response does not play kindly in their favour and only serves to increase their image as The Evil Empire. With the difficult economic situation in Spain, the local bars and restaurants in Madrid will also lose out on a potential bumper payday.
Barça have made a point of stating that the club would be happy to host the Copa del Rey Final in any other year regardless of the two finalists though of course we don’t want it this year as the final should be played on a neutral ground. However, to be fair to Real Madrid, if the situation were reversed I’m sure there would be plenty of socis who might object to the idea of their Camp Nou seat being “infected” by the fat arse of a gloating madridista. The Madrid fans who sang “the final won’t be played here” were typical of fans everywhere, however, this lack of solidarity can come back against you as maybe next time you will be the one who can’t get a ticket for the big game because they have chosen a smaller stadium for the game.
Barça’s stance throughout the ongoing saga has been reasonably correct, however, I can’t help feeling we have been trying to win moral high ground by alluding to Real Madrid’s pettiness. Pep Guardiola’s reply that we “will play where they want us” or spokesman Toni Freixa asking “have you heard anything about construction? Cos I haven’t” will only have irritated our rivals and those who see us as a club happy to have had dealings in Uzbekistan or Qatar while at the same time trying to appear holier-than-thou on other issues.
Both Barça and Madrid could have behaved better, but the real culprit of this sorry situation is the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF). This is how the RFEF works. First they leak the information of a possible decision to the press. Then they wait while the press debate the subject. Shit gets thrown from all sides. The RFEF then makes a decision based on getting hit with the least amount of shit. At an unknown date in the near future they will announce the game is at Mestalla as we all knew it would be from the beginning. There has to be a better way of doing things. The lack of a national stadium doesn’t help the situation but surely it would be better to choose a stadium before the tournament begins to save on all the antagonism caused this time round.