Barcelona Boycotts King's Cup
Barcelona showed up Monday but refused to play a semifinal game against Atletico Madrid, a move that could get the team disqualified from the Copa del Rey.
As crowds on the street outside Nou Camp stadium chanted “coward,” Barcelona vice president Nicolau Casaus defied soccer authorities and said his players would not face Atletico.
“We can't play,” Casaus said as Atletico players warmed up on the field minutes before the game was to start. “We're going to explain our decision in a press release. I'm in agreement with our directors' decision not to play. We're not breaking relations with the federation. We're not breaking with anybody.”
Barcelona sought a postponement of the match arguing that playing now meant it would be without top players for upcoming European exhibitions and World Cup qualifiers.
Barca coach Louis Van Gaal had asked the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to adjourn the game until May 1, saying he had only 11 players, including two goalkeepers, available.
"As we've only been given one day to recuperate from Saturday's league game the decision (not to play) is logical," the Catalan club's Dutch defender Michael Reiziger told Spanish television.
At nine p.m. (1900 GMT), the club, who have lifted the trophy 24 times, handed out a team list containing just ten players and one substitute and skipper Josep Guardiola went out to tell the referee his team would not be playing.
Only 300 Barcelona fans showed up for the game after the team threatened not to play. This boycott means Atletico are set to take their place in the final automatically. But the Spanish Soccer Federation sent a fax insisting that the game should be played Monday.
The club could face expulsion from both this and next season's cup. It also could face a fine of $12,000 and be forced to pay the travel and lodging costs of Atletico de Madrid.
Casaus said Barcelona would continue preparing for a future meeting with Atletico in the King's Cup and refused to comment on threats of expulsion.
Referee Manuel Diez Vega called off the game 10 minutes before starting time.
The federation has not yet commented on the team's boycott but is scheduled to meet Tuesday night and discuss the issue -- (Agencies)
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