Bruce Springsteen ends Copa del Rey stadium controversy

It took Bruce Springsteen to end the controversy over the Copa del Rey final in Spain.

The rock star has announced he will be playing at the Santiago Bernabeu on May 21, ruling out Real Madrid’s stadium for the Copa final betweenBarcelona and Sevilla.

Both finalists wanted to play at the venue, the country’s biggest neutral ground, but Real Madrid was yet to make it available.

The club apparently wanted to avoid the risk of seeing its biggest rival celebrating a title on its ground. Fans were not happy the last time it happened, in 1997, when Barcelona supporters rejoiced at the Bernabeu with the team’s hymn buzzing from the loudspeakers as the players lifted the Copa trophy.

Officially, Madrid had been keeping quiet, neither opposing the final at the Bernabeu nor saying it wouldn’t have a problem with it. Last year, the club said the stadium could not be used for the final between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao because renovation work was needed at the venue.

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique on Tuesday tried to downplay the controversy when told by a reporter that Springsteen’s show was scheduled at the Bernabeu on the same date of the final.

“I guess we won’t be able to watch the concert,” he said, with a grin on his face.

With the Bernabeu not available, the game is expected to be played at Atletico Madrid’s Vicente Calderon Stadium. Another option is Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium. Meetings to discuss the final are expected to take place this week.

Both Sevilla and Barcelona said they preferred to play in a stadium with the “biggest seating capacity possible,” which would generate greater revenue, and in a location that would be the most convenient for fans from both clubs. The city of Madrid makes the most sense, as it’s located almost halfway between Barcelona and Sevilla. But the Vicente Calderon isn’t as modern as the Bernabeu and has a capacity of only 55,000, about 30,000 less than Real Madrid’s venue.

The final is almost always in a neutral venue, but last year it took place at the Camp Nou even though Barcelona was involved, and in 2013 it was at the Bernabeu when Madrid lost to Atletico Madrid.

Sevilla coach Unai Emery recently said he “would rather play in China than at the Camp Nou” because it “would be like giving (Barcelona) another (Lionel) Messi.”

The final could be moved to May 22 if Sevilla reaches the final of the Europa League on May 18. The Bernabeu still wouldn’t be available in that case because of logistics issues following the Springsteen concert.

The Copa del Rey is Spain’s second-most important tournament, after the Spanish league.

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