Santander banned after protest

Racing Santander have been banned from next season's King's Cup after their players, protesting over unpaid wages, refused to challenge for the ball in Thursday's quarterfinal second leg at home to Real Sociedad.

The financially struggling third-tier team, who were also slapped with a fine, announced on Monday they would boycott the game unless club president Angel Lavin and the board resigned.

They formed a line around the centre circle immediately after the match at the Sardinero kicked off and Sociedad played the ball around in their own half for about a minute before the referee brought the game to a halt.

The Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) confirmed on Friday Santander had forfeited the tie, sending Sociedad, who were 3-1 up from last week's first leg in San Sebastian, through to play Barcelona in the semifinals.

The bizarre scenes on Thursday brought the financial difficulties plaguing many debt-ridden Spanish clubs sharply into focus and prompted an outpouring of sympathy for the Santander players and coaching staff.

"Those were the kind of images anyone involved in football never wants to see," Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino told a news conference on Friday. "It is hard to take in and just makes you want to support the players and coaching staff working there," he added.

"It's normal that when you work you are paid for your efforts and that is not happening at Racing.”

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