By Jake Threadgould
Madrid Desk, Jul 21 (efe-epa).- Deportivo La Coruña were geared up for a last-gasp battle to stay in Spain’s second division before at least six players from traveling opponents Fuenlabrada tested positive for Covid-19 after the team landed in Galician port-city for the showdown.
LaLiga postponed the game but sparked controversy when it allowed the rest of Monday’s fixtures to go ahead as planned.
Depor’s fate was written as the results trickled in. Lugo and Albacete, who Depor needed to lose, both won.
Mathematically, the club from Galicia, giants of Spanish football, slid into the third-tier, Segunda B, a notoriously tricky league to exit, given that even the winners must contend in a play-off round.
Before the 90 minutes were up in the rest of the matches, which were all played at the same time, Depor released a statement saying they would look into taking legal action.
“Real Club Deportivo de La Coruña SAD has brought to the attention of LaLiga, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and the National Sports Council (CSD) its complete opposition to such a decision.
“It spoils the competition and the spirit of the final two match days, the results of which have an effect on the others,” the club said.
The following day, the club’s president Fernando Vidal said in a press conference: “It’s a total fudge-up.
“The match day has to be replayed, there’s no other solution.”
LaLiga said the decision to go ahead with the rest of the fixtures protected players while safeguarding the “global” integrity of the league.
Various Spanish media outlets were reporting Tuesday that a further four people, one player and three members of the Fuenlabrada technical staff, had also tested positive.
The entire traveling squad and the coaching staff are quarantining at a hotel in A Coruña, which is almost 600 kilometers to the northwest of the capital Madrid, to the south of which lies the suburb of Fuenlabrada.
Regional health authorities in Galicia on Tuesday said they had requested explanations from LaLiga and the RFEF as to how it was possible that Fuenlabrada traveled to A Coruña with Covid-19 cases in the team.
Since the national state of alarm in Spain ended on 21 June, the number of Covid-19 cases has risen again, prompting restrictions to be reimposed in places like Barcelona, in Catalonia, and Zarazoga, in Aragon.
Fuenlabrada’s chances of getting to the promotion play-offs hinged on the Depor game, a date for which has not been set.
The play-offs were due to begin on 23 July.
The indignation was not limited to Depor and its fans on social media. Other play-off contenders such as Rayo Vallecano and Elche — who secured the spot with a win over Real Oviedo — criticized the decision to play on despite the cancellation of the Depor-Fuenlabrada game.
Both Rayo and Elche will conduct Covid-19 tests on their players, according to statements.
Rayo forward Yacine Qasmi was pulled from the team’s fixture against Racing de Santander when he informed the club that he had recently had dinner with a Fuenlabrada player, the Madrid-based club said.