Extraordinary scenes unfolded in Spain's Copa del Rey quarterfinal second leg on Thursday, as Racing Santander refused to play their match against Real Sociedad.
The players, along with the rest of the squad and coaches, made the decision as a protest against alleged unpaid wages and general mismanagement of the club.
Following Racing's 3-1 defeat in the first leg tie against Real Sociedad, the team publicly declared they would refuse to play in the second leg unless the board resigned.
When that did not happen, the team arrived and prepared for the match, but once the referee blew the whistle to start the game, the players on the field linked arms and stood on the edge of the center circle, refusing to participate (pictured). Meanwhile, the subs and coaches assumed a similar position on the sideline.
As a result of the protest, Real Sociedad moves ahead in the Copa del Rey after being awarded a 3-0 win in the second leg, but Racing Santander players say they aren't done with protests despite losing out on advancement. With the club's board scheduled to meet next week, they may also refuse to play in the league until they receive money they say they haven't been paid for months, or until the club's board exits.
Racing were in La Liga just two years ago, before successive relegations put them in the regional Segunda División B. Though they lead their group at the moment, the club's crisis, including the suspicion they simply don't have enough money to keep the club alive, puts their future in real doubt, especially as they are currently in administration.
Earlier this month, Sid Lowe profiled the team for ESPNFC.com following a victory in the Copa del Rey, in which the team was forced to bus across the country in order to play, in an era in which other teams simply fly to long-distance matches.
According to Lowe, Racing's current problems stem from the purchase of the club in January 2011 by Indian businessman Ahsan Ali Syed. Syed previously tried to buy former English Premier League team Blackburn Rovers, but the league refused to approve the sale, and he bought Racing instead.