Leading figures condemn violence in Santander

The president of Cantabria and the Mayor of Santander have both condemned the violent scenes during Racing's game against Almeria in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.

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A protest by the team over non-payment of wages before the start of the tie later escalated into crowd disturbances, with chairman Angel Lavin the object of the fans' ire at El Sardinero.

The Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE) released a statement on Wednesday explaining that the Racing players had not been paid since the end of September, hence their protest of remaining motionless for the first 20 seconds of the game.

Some among the miniscule crowd of 1,500 then made their own protest. A section of fans raced from behind the goal towards the directors' box and, according to reports, seats, bottles of beer and spit were all launched at Lavin.

Security were outnumbered but attempted to intervene and reports stated both Almeria president Alfonso Garcia and a security officer were hit in the head by seats, with the former claiming one of his fellow directors suffered a cut arm.

A fan grabbed Lavin's hand and attempted to attack him but he refused to leave the directors' box and eventually the situation was defused by the national police.

Cantabria president Ignacio Diego and Santander mayor Inigo de la Serna were unequivocal in their damning of those involved in the violence.

Diego told reporters that while he understood "the upset of many fans" with the situation at the club, the actions of "just a few" was "absolutely inadequate".

De La Serna described the events as "absolutely pitiful" and said: "The use of violence in any way should not be accepted but otherwise condemned."

He added: "As it seems perfectly understandable that the players have stopped the match for a few seconds to show they are in a desperate situation without receiving their salaries since October, it seems quite disproportionate and unjustified to resort to violence against the board."

The club have endured a gruesome few years. An established mid-table Primera Division team, Racing's recent high point saw them finish sixth in 2008 as well as reaching the semi-final of the Copa del Rey.

However, successive relegations in the last two seasons now sees them in Segunda Division B and although they can reasonably expect to be among those challenging for an immediate return, the club are experiencing the throes of a crisis.

The match eventually finished 1-1.

Almeria president Garcia later on Thursday revealed he and director Luis Guillen had had to contend with seats and ashtrays being thrown, with the former hit on the arms and Guillen suffering a cut wrist.

Garcia was clearly shaken and in quotes on Almeria's official website he said: "I could not imagine that something like this could happen, the security has been slow to intervene.

"I've been 12 years in football, I have seen more than 400 games in a box and the truth is I've never experienced a situation like this.

"I do not understand how they can react this way."

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