The Round of 32 sees la Primera’s sides enter the cup competition and for most clubs this is scheduled for between December 13 and 15. However, due to Barcelona’s commitments with the Club World Cup at the same time, the RFEF agreed to bring forward the fixture to the closest date possible – November 16.
However, with Spain in action in an international friendly away to Costa Rica just two days before, Barcelona have been protesting that they will not be able to contest the fixture.
“We will not have enough players. We will be left with Pinto, Maxwell and Fontas plus four from the B team. Seven. I will have no more,” warned Pep Guardiola recently.
The RFEF have now agreed to move the fixture forward another week to November 9, giving any players likely to be called up for international duty at least three days to recover – against Scotland, seven of the starting XI were Barcelona players. This decision has been welcomed by both Barcelona and Spain, with Vicente Del Bosque praising the decision as successfully avoiding controversy.
The issue threatened a repeat instance of over a decade ago when Barcelona took the option to forfeit a match after a similar scheduling conflict.
In 1999-2000, Barcelona decided not to contest the Copa del Rey semi-final second leg against Atletico Madrid and try to take the 3-0 default defeat as a penalty. The Catalans had won the first leg but refused to play the second leg, turning up to that fixture with just 11 players – including captain Guardiola and two goalkeepers – and arguing that due to international call-ups, they did not have sufficient numbers to compete.
The RFEF threw Barca out of the competition and awarded Atletico the aggregate semi-final win on that occasion. The Blaugrana were also originally barred from the Copa del Rey for the following season too as part of the punishment, but on appeal that was dropped.