The strange story of La Cartuja

When Spain take on Germany this evening the focus will rightly be on the football. But the place in which the football is taking place is worthy of a thought, too.

La Cartuja, situated on the Isla de la Cartuja in Seville, was built in time for the 1999 World Championships in Athletics. With a capacity of 60,000, it’s the sixth biggest stadium in Spain and the second biggest in Andalusia.

It was an important part of Seville’s bid for the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, and for a time was referred to as the Olympic Stadium. Now, however, as pointed out by Diario AS, fewer and fewer Sevillanos refer to La Cartuja as Olympic, and if they do it’s with a healthy dose of sarcasm.

The venue was inaugurated with a friendly match by La Roja on May 5th, 1999, when Spain beat Croatia 3-1. Its construction cost more than €120m in today’s money, but it’s never been graced by the Olympic flame.

Tonight will be the first competitive fixture La Roja will have played at La Cartuja – they’ve previously played three friendlies aside from that aforementioned clash with Croatia, against Argentina, the Netherlands and China.

The stadium has also seen two Copa del Rey finals, in 1999 and 2001, and the 2003 UEFA Cup final between Jose Mourinho’s Porto and Glasgow Celtic. La Cartuja has also seen elite tennis, with Spain winning two of their six Davis Cups there.

In recent times the stadium has hosted more concerts than sporting events, including AC/DC, U2, Madonna, Depeche Mode and Bruce Springsteen.

The Andalusian government had began to take steps pre-COVID to reactivate La Cartuja, fixing the roof and laying new turf while signing an agreement with the RFEF to host the next four Copa del Rey finals there.

The first one should be last season’s all-Basque clash between Athletic Club and Real Sociedad, which is scheduled to be played in April 2021.

With Sevilla and Real Betis dominating so much of the footballing culture in the city, La Cartuja is so often left in the shade. Tonight, however, it will be centre-stage.

Featured image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Tags La Cartuja La Roja Spain