Racing-Real Sociedad match suspended

Racing Santander players boycotted their Copa del Rey quarterfinal against Real Sociedad to protest unpaid wages.

The Racing Santander-Real Sociedad Copa del Rey second-leg match was suspended on Thursday after Racing players formed a semicircle on the pitch after kick-off and refused to play in protest over alleged non-payment of salaries.

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Because of Racing’s forfeiture, Real Sociedad will play Barcelona on Wednesday in Copa del Rey semifinals, after advancing 3-1 in the first leg.

The third-tier club's players released a joint statement on Monday announcing they would boycott the quarterfinal second-leg unless president Angel Lavin and his board stepped down.

That did not happen prior to kick-off. The home players turned up and completed their warm-up on Thursday. But when the first whistle blew and Sociedad kicked off, the Racing players moved in and stood arm in arm around the centre circle, with substitutes and coaching staff lining up in solidarity on the touchline.

Sociedad passed the ball between themselves in their own half for a while before kicking it out for a throw-in, at which point the referee signalled that the match was suspended.

Racing's board of directors are scheduled to meet on Friday.

In the statement last Monday, Racing captain Mario Fernandez said the players had not been paid for a number of months despite promises they would be.

With still no response to that ultimatum throughout the week, Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE) chief Luis Rubiales met with the Racing players and coaching staff in Santander on Thursday, and afterward he confirmed there had been no change in the team's stance.

Rubiales told a news conference: "If at 2100 (CET) 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 has not resigned by the time of the game they are not going to play. They have the complete backing of the AFE, as always."

Rubiales reminded the Racing players at the meeting that "there are rules and their decision not to play could have consequences, but they are strong and united and we have to be together with them."

As recently as 2008, Racing finished sixth in the first division standings but in the last two seasons they have suffered back-to-back relegations to drop to the third tier.

Information from Press Association and The Associated Press was used in this report.