By Chris Wright
Last night’s Copa Del Rey quarter-final second leg between Racing Santander and Real Sociedad lasted just one minute before the referee abandoned the tie after the home side refused to play on in protest over unpaid wages.
Having not received any wages since September and having already staged a similar protest in the previous round of the Copa, Racing’s players issued a statement on Monday warning that they once again planned to boycott the Sociedad game unless incumbent president Angel Lavin and his board stepped down.
Sure enough, the ball was put out for a throw-in immediately after kick-off and the Santander players huddled arm-in-arm on the edge of the centre-circle in a show of solidarity as the referee, who had been informed that the protest was going to take place beforehand, whistled and signalled for the game to be abandoned.
Leading 3-1 from the first leg and automatically through to the semi-finals courtesy of Santander’s refusal to play, the Sociedad players remained on the pitch for several minutes, applauding their opponents’ show of defiance while the home fans in attendance visibly encouraged their team’s actions with a barrage of anti-Lavin banners and chants.
“Right now we have mixed feelings of sadness and a kind of joy but it is a shame it had to come to this,” said Santander midfielder Javi Soria. “We hope things get sorted out because we just want to get back to playing and try to make Racing the best it can be.”
“We hope there are no legal consequences because we have done this for the good of football, for the good of a city and for the whole of Spain because there are lots of similar cases.”