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Strange scene in Spain as Racing Santander players protest, refuse to play

Jan 30, 2014, 5:12 PM EDT

Racing Santander v Real Sociedad - Copa del Rey Quarter Final

We see this stuff every now and then, players protesting over lack of pay, but it’s usually in third-world lands or the lower tiers of more advanced lands.

To have such an unbecoming episode happen in Spain, during a well-regarded competition, no less, is something else.

Protesting their club’s board and, specifically, accusations that they haven’t been paid in months, players from Spanish club Racing Santander refused to participate Thursday against Real Sociedad as the teams’ Copa del Rey match started and was quickly abandoned.

According to several reports, Racing’s players warmed up and then stood in the middle of the field, arm in arm, as Real Sociedad players passed the ball around and then out of bounds. The referee then signaled that the match would be abandoned.

It was a second-leg contest; Sociedad had prevailed in the first leg, 3-1, and will move on to face mighty Barcelona in the tournament’s semifinals. The Copa del Rey is Spain’s second most important competition after the La Liga crown.

Racing players had threatened to do this very thing if club president Ángel Lavín and the entire board of directors refused to resign. Spanish soccer officials had attempted to intercede, but were clearly unsuccessful in their efforts to get Racing to play the match and avoid the embarrassment and added attention – like American blogs picking up on the story.

Racing is Spain’s second division.

  1. jrocknstuff - Jan 30, 2014 at 6:17 PM

    Racing isn’t just 2nd division they’re atop the table of the 2nd division and stand a great chance at promotion. The board really needs to pay them, because they’re in a great position to profit in a big way next season.

    • steves4 - Jan 30, 2014 at 6:50 PM

      Racing is actually in the third division after being relegated two years in a row. Honestly, I didn’t even realize Spain had a third division. Just never hear about it.

  2. dws110 - Jan 30, 2014 at 7:11 PM

    I respect the Racing players and fans who supported them. It couldn’t have been easy to protest their criminal board and club president like that.

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