Real Madrid are in danger of being expelled from the Copa Del Rey after it emerged they had fielded an ineligible player in Wednesday night’s victory over Cadiz. Winger Denis Cheryshev started against the third-tier club and scored the game’s first goal before being withdrawn at half-time after Real realised their error. Cheryshev had picked up three yellow cards in the competition for his former club last season which meant he should have been suspended for the Cadiz fixture. The opposition club in question reported the blunder, but wanted to show Real no ill will.
“This situation required a speedy decision because there was no time to speculate. The board has met and decided to report Real Madrid for fielding an ineligible player, out of respect for our fans and the club. We decided to do this with a heavy heart, but it is our firm decision. We do this not without a sense of pain, because we are friendly with the club. We read the report, evaluated the situation and weighed up our decision. I think we’ve acted responsibly, said Cadiz president Manuel Vizcaino.
The two sides are still set to embark in a second leg of the competition, but Real could be punished with expulsion, ruling them out of silverware and putting Cadiz into the fifth round at their expense. No blame was placed on manager Rafael Benitez, but there was some responsibility on the team who monitor players’ availability. Real are among the favourites to go all the way in the Copa Del Rey, winning the cup in 2014, but this could be a big blow for Los Blancos who are already six points adrift in the La Liga title race.
Benitez was certainly taking the Copa Del Rey seriously this campaign, viewing it as a chance to earn some silverware in his debut season at the club. He was apologetic following the match, however, revealing he substituted the player immediately when made aware of his ineligibility “in good faith”, but Cadiz reporting the incident means Real are likely to be given a severe punshiment.
Matters aren’t helped considering Cheryshev started the match and even scored the first goal of the game, as he clearly had an impact on the outcome. Real could have been dealt a lenient sanction if the Russian midfielder was on the bench, but now an administration error sees him making headlines for potentially costing his side a place in this season’s Copa Del Rey.