UPDATE: The COLPISA news agency in Madrid is reporting that the Spanish federation agrees with Barcelona’s interpretation of the rules. Carry on, everyone.
UPDATE 2: Now we are hearing contradicting reports that the federation might actually disagree with Barcelona, and Levante could file a complaint. Read more here.
FC Barcelona are at risk of being eliminated from the Copa del Rey due to fielding an ineligible player, according to El Mundo. But the club itself feels they did nothing wrong and that things will go on as planned, according to Onda Cero.
The player in contention is Juan Brandáriz, also known as Chumi. He normally plays for Barcelona B, and received a fifth yellow card playing for them against Castellón on the 6th that meant a one-match ban. He then went with the first team as Barcelona lost 2-1 to Levante in the cup on the 10th. Afterwards, he did not play in the league as the B team went up against Alcoyano on the 13th.
According to El Mundo, Chumi should not have played that Levante match (as he had received his fifth yellow in his previous match), and since he did, Barcelona should be eliminated. A similar situation happened to Real Madrid, when they fielded Denis Cheryshev against Cádiz, despite the fact he had yet to serve a ban for yellow cards accumulated the previous season. They were forced out of the cup despite winning 3-1 on the day.
Meanwhile, Mundo Deportivo writes that Barcelona are correct in their interpretation of the rules, and Chumi was fine to play that game. A rule that was updated in November of last year, they say, dictates that bans given out for “light” infractions (which would include a yellow card) are served within the competition they are committed in. That is to say, Chumi was OK to play in the cup, since it was a different competition than the one he got a yellow in (the league). He’s now not played in the league, and should be fine to play again.
El Mundo says that according to their legal sources, this rule had to do with “simultaneous licenses” and not “this kind of case.” They say that a B team player cannot play for the senior team if he is currently ineligible to play for the B team due to a ban. A Radio Marca journalist, Carles Escolán, argues that Chumi does indeed have this “double license” because he plays with both the B team and the senior team. That means the lineup was perfectly within the rules.
Before you get completely mixed up in all this, there’s a very important caveat: Levante had 48 hours to present a complaint, and they have yet to do so. El Mundo only writes that Levante could still lodge a complaint and see if the relevant authorities accept it. That would have to happen with tremendous speed since the return leg is set to be played in a little over five hours from now.