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Mar 8, 2013

Copa final moved to avoid Eurovision

The 2013 Copa de Rey final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will be held on Friday, May 17 at Madrid's Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, following a week of speculation and intrigue among the city's footballing community.

A very Spanish 'morbo' style row erupted as soon as the two city rivals qualified for the decider last week, with Atletico president Enrique Cerezo saying his club's Estadio Vicente Calderon must host the game, Madrid leaking they would prefer a neutral venue such as Barcelona's Camp Nou, and national broadcaster TVE urging a change of date to avoid a clash with the Eurovision Song Contest.

The debate was settled on Friday, after a meeting between representatives of the two finalists, and the Federacion Espanola de Futbol [RFEF], who [theoretically] have the final say on setting the fixture.

After all three parties agreed the game should take place somewhere in the Spanish capital, the Bernabeu's greater seating capacity [80,000 compared to 55,000] won the day, which will allow each side to have 30,000 tickets for its fans, said Emilio Butragueno, Madrid's director of Institutional Relations.

"Our relationship with Atletico is extraordinary and that has been proved once again with this agreement, which was made quickly," Butragueno said. "We are very pleased that the final will be held at the Bernabeu. Seating capacity was crucial. The final is a celebration of Madrid football and the more fans from both teams that can attend the better."

The game had been provisionally fixed last summer for Saturday May 18, the night of this year's Eurovision, an issue for the Spanish national broadcaster which holds the rights to both marquee events. There had also been a suggestion that Madrid boss Jose Mourinho was keen for the game to moved forward due to his side's potential appearance in May 25's Champions League final.

Butragueno said Mourinho was happy with the decision reached to play the game at 2130 Spanish time on the Friday night, eight days before the Wembley date.

"[Mourinho] told us that he completely agreed with the decision the club makes," he said.

The clubs have met in four previous Copa finals. Each has a better record playing at their rivals' home, as seen when Atletico won their most recent decider 2-0 in 1992. Colchoneros director Clemente Villaverde said his club was happy with the agreement.

"Common sense has prevailed," Villaverde. "It was the best decision for both institutions."

RFEF general secretary Jorge Perez suggested the federation's role had been to accept the venue and date which had been agreed in advance by the two clubs. "It was a unanimous consensus," Perez said. "We thought it was perfect."

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