The Copa del Rey (English: The King's Cup) is an annual football cup competition for Spanish football teams. Its full name is Campeonato de España – Copa de Su Majestad El Rey Don Juan Carlos I (Championship of Spain – His Majesty King Juan Carlos I's Cup), referring to the current King of Spain, Juan Carlos I of Spain.
The competition was founded in 1902. FC Barcelona have won the cup on the most occasions, with 25 wins.
The competition was first played in 1902 after Carlos Padrós, later president of Madrid FC, suggested a football competition to celebrate the coronation of Alfonso XIII. Three other teams joined Real Madrid CF for the first competition: FC Barcelona, RCD Espanyol, and Athletic Bilbao. The competition featured the first recorded game between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF, with the latter emerging 2–3 winners. Real Madrid CF eventually defeated Athletic Bilbao in the final.
It has been Spain's football “National Championship″ since 1903, before the foundation of the “Campeonato de Liga″—League Championship—in 1928.
It was initially known as the Copa del Ayuntamiento de Madrid (Madrid City Council's Cup). Between 1905 and 1932, it was known as the Copa de Su Majestad El Rey Alfonso XIII (His Majesty King Alfonso XIII's Cup). During the Second Spanish Republic it was known as the Copa del Presidente de la República (President of the Republic Cup) or Copa de España (Spanish Cup) and during the years of the Francisco Franco's dictatorship it was known as the Copa de Su Excelencia El Generalísimo or Copa del Generalísimo ((His Excellency) The Supreme General's Cup). Teams from upper and lower divisions play against each other but the number of clubs allowed to participate is restricted.
The 1902 competition was won by Club Vizcaya, a team made up of players from Athletic Club and Bilbao FC. The 1902 cup is on display in the Athletic museum, and the club includes the victory in its honours list.
Athletic Bilbao were declared winners in 1904 after their opponents Club Español de Madrid failed to show up. In both 1910 and 1913, there was a split among the clubs and two rival associations, the Unión Española de Clubs de Fútbol and the Federación Española de Fútbol, organised rival competitions, the Copa UECF and the Copa FEF. In 1937, during the Spanish Civil War clubs in the Republican area of Spain entered the Copa de la España Libre, with Levante FC beating their city rivals Valencia CF 1–0 in the final. Although in 2007 the Congress of Deputies urged Royal Spanish Football Federation to recognise it as a Copa del Rey win for Levante FC, the governing body of Spanish football has not made a decision yet.
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