In an incredible scene, Racing Santander refused to play in their Copa del Rey match against Real Sociedad on Thursday, Jan. 30, in protest against the club's board.
Updates From Friday, Jan. 31
According to the Associated Press, Santander have been banned from the 2014-15 Copa del Rey after refusing to play Real Sociedad on Thursday:
Racing Santander's boycott of a Copa del Rey quarterfinal over unpaid wages caused the third-tier Spanish club to be banned from the domestic cup tournament for one season.
Santander refused to play after taking the field against Real Sociedad on Thursday, with the referee suspending the quarterfinal return leg after one minute.
For that stance, Santander was banned from the Copa del Rey for the 2014-15 season, and the heavily indebted club also received a fine of 3,006 euros ($4,056).
According to Sky Sports, captain Mario Fernandez had explained that his squad had not been paid for months. Spanish professional footballers union president Luis Rubiales then explained Racing's willingness to boycott their quarterfinal match:
If at 2100 the Racing board is the same as now, they will not play.
The squad decided something last Monday which they made public, and they continue thinking exactly the same, that if the current board have not resigned by the time of the game they are not going to play. They have the complete backing of the AFE, as always.
When the match started, the players stood by their word and refused to play:
BREAKING: Racing Santander line up on the centre circle in the Copa del Rey game vs. Real Sociedad after not being paid for months.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 30, 2014
The referee has blown the whistle and the game has been called off... Incredible scenes. The match has been suspended.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 30, 2014
ESPN's Dermot Corrigan provided additional details:
Game kicks off, Racing players gather in centre circle. Ref asks them if they're gonna play. Told no. It's over. No game.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) January 30, 2014
James Dart of The Guardian captured a picture of the Racing Santander players standing together:
Racing Santander taking their stand. Game off pic.twitter.com/id0cmFmZGh— James Dart (@James_Dart) January 30, 2014
Inside La Liga added this interesting tidbit:
The #Racing players have now headed over to the fans to applaud them.— Inside La Liga (@InsideLaLiga) January 30, 2014
According to Rik Sharma of the Daily Mail, Real Sociedad will now advance to the Copa del Rey semifinals to face Barcelona after the forfeit. They held a 3-1 lead after the first leg before Racing Santander refused to play in the second leg.
Racing have a proud history featuring regular play in Spain's first division. From 1993 to 2012, they competed in La Liga for all but one season.
Unfortunately, they have been relegated in consecutive years to drop to Segunda Division B.
Meanwhile, issues with the board and team president Angel Lavin have created even more problems for the Spanish club. The fact that the squad had not been paid is a dramatic example of how bad things had gotten.
Andrew Orsatti of FIFPro explained that the worldwide football representation organization will stand by the players:
Racing Santander players take a stand. It highlights their own plight and a football industry which is dismantling itself. Case and point.— Andrew Orsatti (@AndrewOrsatti) January 30, 2014
Racing Santander players show courage and conviction. That a player should expect to be paid on time is a basic right, says @FIFPro.— Andrew Orsatti (@AndrewOrsatti) January 30, 2014
It remains to be seen how the club's hierarchy will handle the situation, but it is clear changes must be made at Racing Santander before the squad will return to the pitch.
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