Competition news

CHAOS IN LA LIGA SMARTBANK

22 Jul 2020
The last matchday at Segunda División left more questions than answers. Deportivo want to repeat the whole matchday, La Liga says no, while the local government is upset for how the institutions handled the situation.

The wave of protests and disbelief was bigger on Tuesday after what happened one day before at Liga SmartBank. It’s not only that Deportivo and CD Numancia were affected by the relegation, neither that Elche CF and Rayo Vallecano feel betrayed for not competing under the same rules as they see CF Fuenlabrada having an advantage in the dispute of the playoffs, but also the health problem created by the failure of the protocols.

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED AT FUENLABRADA?
On Tuesday more details were released about what happened during the weekend in Fuenlabrada. The Madrilenians played on Friday against Elche CF, one day later the whole squad went through the PCR tests that are part of the protocol, and the results was that a player turned to be infected with COVID-19, while there were three suspicious cases among the coaching staff.

These three persons had new tests on Sunday and it was confirmed that they were infected. CF Fuenlabrada and La Liga were informed about the results, but it wasn’t made public. On Monday, just hours before the game at the Riazor, new tests were made and the team, without the four confirmed cases, made the trip to A Coruña without receiving the results of the third round of tests.

They were just informed about the results when they were at Hotel Finisterre in A Coruña, and the results were that there were six additional positive cases among the players plus three among the coaching staff. The Madrilenians arranged to return immediately to Madrid, but the health authorities in A Coruña didn’t allow it and they are confined at the hotel since then.

BREAKING THE PROTOCOLS
What happened on Monday indicates that several of La Liga protocols were broken. First to all, La Liga should have insolated not only CF Fuenlabrada, but also Elche CF after positive cases were found on Saturday. Instead they just wanted to isolate that player and ordered new tests.

Then, CF Fuenlabrada shouldn’t be allowed to travel knowing that they have suspicious cases, something that’s even forbidden by the health authorities. This situation just caused a bigger problem as the infection moved from the community of Madrid to Galicia, forcing the health authorities to trace the virus when the risk should have been avoided. There were also denounces that Fuenlabrada’s players were making a walk in A Coruña on Monday, and the protocol of la liga is that they cannot leave the hotel.

And the mess is bigger as it affected Rayo Vallecano too. Striker Yacine Qasmi told to his coach, Paco Jémez, that he had a dinner with the infected player at CF Fuenlabrada on Saturday, he was going to be a starter on Monday’s game at Racing Santander, but was pulled off at the last minute. Later it was known that the whole Rayo’s squad was put in quarantine. This is a violation of the protocol, because the players at all the teams were mandated to remain in self-isolation from the first matchday after the lockdown until Monday. Yacine Qasmi broke the protocol and put his teammates in danger.

REACTION FROM THE CLUBS
Several clubs, plus the Players Union, have expressed their unsatisfaction for how things occurred, but the four clubs directly affected by the results are the ones making more noise. Deportivo and CD Numancia have been demoted to Segunda B, while Rayo Vallecano and Elche CF see now how they will probably end without the chance to qualify for the playoff. These four clubs are promising to take legal actions, and even suggested a common front against this situation.

On Tuesday some journalists were filtering that the situation could be to extend the number of clubs on next season to 24, allowing the continuity of CD Numancia and Deportivo, plus increasing the number of participants in the playoffs to allow the entry of Rayo Vallecano and Elche.

But in the case of Deportivo the situation is clear: the Galician club wants to repeat the whole matchday and play all the games at the same time, which will allow to end the competition with all the clubs having the same opportunities. This was confirmed by both Fernando Vidal and Richard Barral during their press conferences.

"The club is asking to repeat the matchday. The other option is to extend the number of clubs in the league and also the number of clubs taking part in the playoff, but we aren’t asking for that. We want the suspension of the whole matchday. To not show up to the game with Fuenlabrada? We cannot affect the other teams. It cannot be that a team is demoted without playing. It's unacceptable." Barral said on Tuesday.

REACTION FROM LA LIGA
The LFP lasted in reacting after the huge mess created on Monday. Early on Tuesday’s afternoon, president Javier Tebas talked at Radio Cadena Ser and said that they won’t repeat the last matchday and that the game Deportivo Vs. Fuenlabrada must be played in 10 or 15 days.

LEGAL BASE
The LFP released a statement on Monday, just minutes before the kick-off of the matches, and they argued that the decision to suspend the game of Deportivo and play the rest of the matchday was the “best one” in order to keep the integrity of the competition and that the suspension of Depor’s game wasn’t affecting this integrity, which simply isn’t true as the result of this game is even crucial at this point as it will dictate who will play in the playoffs, without mentioning that it was also affecting the situation with the relegation.

To clarify at this point that the same Spanish Federation released a statement early on July clarifying that the last wo matchdays at Primera and Segunda must be played at the same hour, at least the games that had an impact for championships, qualification for European competitions, promotions and relegations. So, there’s a strong legal base to make an appeal.

OTHER REACTIONS
The health problem created in A Coruña is another consequence of the mess. The major of the city, Inés Rey García from the party PSG/PSOE, criticized the way la liga handled the situation. “From the Concello A Coruña we want to know why the entire Fuenlabrada team wasn’t isolated, why they weren’t quarantined, and why they were allowed to travel to  Coruña. If they knew about the infections, did they report it to the health authorities of Madrid and Galicia? If it is confirmed that in Fuenlabrada they knew of the positive cases, I want to show my absolute indignation at what would be an irresponsible attitude of a football club that, knowing that it had a positive cases, didn’t proceed to follow the protocols of COVID. Footballers are no different from the rest of the population. The League has no special status. If I test positive for COVID it isolates everyone around me. What’s the difference between a footballer and any Spanish citizen? Or is it La Liga above health protocols?” Rival’s party PP also supported any legal measure that the City Council could take in this regard.

ARCHIVE NEWS JUL/20

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