True to the their word, Racing Santander's players took to the pitch for their Copa del Rey quarterfinal second-leg match against Real Sociedad, but refused to play in protest of not being paid since September. The players threatened to protest in this way unless the club's board resigned. Since that did not happen, the players stood on the pitch and, with the support of their opponents and fans, refused to play, forcing the referee to abandon the match.
The crowd cheered to show their support for the players, who applauded them back. (Sid Lowe details the story of the deadbeat owner who put the club €50 million in debt and the tremendous spirit of the players and fans through it all for ESPN here.)
This protest comes after fans physically attacked club chairman Angel Lavin in the stands during the previous round of the tournament. Racing Santander are currently in the Spanish third division, so the Copa del Rey represents the biggest stage they have to make a statement like this. A third division club making it this far in the Copa del Rey is impressive enough, but an unpaid third division club making it this far in the Copa del Rey is downright amazing. Hopefully the attention they receive for this action will help bring the long overdue pay they deserve.
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