The Copa del Rey (Spanish for King’s Cup) is the men’s cup competition in the Spanish football. Howeve there also are competitions for Copas del Rey in the majority of other sports.
The tournament of the Spanish Cup is held since 1902. The changing naming of the Cup reflects the course of Spanish history. In the year of foundation the tournament was held in celebration of King Alfonso’s XIII assumption of official duties and called Copa de Ayuntamiento de Madrid. The tournament’s winner, Vizcaya de Bilbao (a joint team of Club Bilbao F.C. and Athletic Bilbao) kept the Cup. For the second tournament in 1903, a new Cup was donated officially named S.M. El Rey Alfonso XIII. After the proclamation of the second republic and the resignation Alfonso XIII (1931), the Cup was since 1933 named Copa del Presidente de la República (Cup of the republic’s president, also called Copa de España). During the civil war in 1937, it was the Copa de España Libre (Cup of free Spain) which was held in those parts of Spain controlled by republican troops; the winner was UD Levante through a 1:0 against its local rival FC Valencia. However this Cup is not being officially acknowledged by the Spanish Football Association and is therefore not listed in statistics. In 1938 no tournament was held. After the victory of Francisco Franco’s anti-republican party in civil war, the Cup was played under the name Trofeo de S.E. El Generalísimo, since 1940 Copa de S.E. El Generalísimo. Since 1976/77, after Franco’s death during the Cup season 18975/76, the Cup was played under the name Copa de S.M. El Rey Don Juan Carlos I.
Record winner is the FC Barcelona with 25 wins. Athletic Bilbao won the cup 23 times (and once as Vizcaya de Bilbao), Real Madrid 18 times, Atlético Madrid nine times. The FC Valencia seven times and Real Saragossa six times. Reigning champion is Real Madrid which beat FC Barcelona 1:0 in the last final at Estadio Mestalla in Valencia.
In 1904 the Cup winner was Athletic Bilbao without playing a game during semi-final and final. In semi-final Espanyol Barcelona default and in the final no opponent could be found since Madrid’s teams Real Madrid, Espanyol and Moncloa were on bad terms with each other.
The tournament is played in knock out system. All clubs of the first two leagues (Primera División and Segunda División), as well as the best teams of the quadrinominal third highest league (Segunad División B) and champions of the regional fourth league (Tercera División) are permitted to participate. During the first rounds only one game is played in which the lower leveled clubs have the right to play at home. From the round of last 16 to the semi-finals, the winner is determined on aggregate. Every year, the final is held in another stadium, however disproportionately often in Madrid.
In 1910 and 1913 two Copa del Reys were played, one of the Federación Española de Fútbol and one of the der Unión Española de Clubs de Fútbol respectively. The actual trophy today is the twelfth since the existence of the competition. Besides the Cup in 1902 following Cups were taken into possession by Real Madrid (1907) for three victories in a row, the third Cup to Athletic Bilbao (196) for three victories in a row, the fourth to FC Barcelona (1928) for five victories in a row since 1917, the fifth Cup to Atlético Madrid (1932) for three victories in a row, the only once played Trofeo del Generalísimo 1939 to FC Sevilla, the seventh Cup to Athletic Bilbao (1945) for three victories in a row, the eighth and ninth Cup to FC Barcelona (1953 and 1971) for five victories in a row subce 1954, the tenth Cup to Atlético Madrid (1976) due to a change of regime and the competition’s renaming, the eleventh Cup to FC Barcelona for five victories in a row since 1972.