Sport Soccer

Thursday 21 September 2017

Santander boycott game in bid to oust president

Racing Santander players stand in a line and refuse to play as a protest over unpaid wages
Racing Santander players stand in a line and refuse to play as a protest over unpaid wages

Racing Santander made good on its threat to boycott its Copa del Rey quarter-final against Real Sociedad over unpaid wages, refusing to play yesterday because the club's president did not resign.

Sociedad held a 3-1 first-leg lead going into the match at El Sardinero Stadium, but players from third-tier Racing said they had no intention of playing if Angel Lavin and his board did not step down.

Both teams took to the field but Santander's players immediately lined up near the halfway line after kick-off and refused to play. The referee suspending the game after one minute.

Sociedad kicked the ball around before shooting it into the stands where spectators showed their support for the players by chanting "don't play!"

International players' union, FIFPRO, and Spanish union AFE both support the move, which comes after the lower-tier club's players had not been paid in four months despite promises by Lavin.

It's not the first time that Santander has used the domestic cup competition to bring awareness to its situation, with the players standing idly for 30 seconds to start a last-16 game against Almeria before eventually playing. That match also saw Santander ultras invade the president's box, sparking off violent scenes.

Fans were allowed to enter El Sardinero for free yesterday.

Santander slipped down to the third division in just two seasons following the exit of former owner Ahsan Ali Syed, who left the club in crisis.

Santander is not the first team to refuse to play a Copa del Rey game, with Barcelona boycotting a return leg against Atletico Madrid during the 1999-2000 season. Barcelona boycotted because of scheduling with the international calendar leaving it with just nine outfield players available.

Sociedad will go on to play Barcelona in the cup semi-finals.

Meanwhile, Adel Taarabt (above) is undergoing a medical at AC Milan with a view to joining the Italian giants on loan for the rest of the season, the Rossoneri have confirmed.

Irish Independent

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