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Spanish clubs face stiff penalties if season is extended

Written by: Staff
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MADRID, May 5 (Reuters) A postponed Spanish league match between Barcelona and Sevilla is causing a fixture conflict due to FIFA's directive that the season must end by May 15.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has threatened stiff penalties for a breach of the directive allowing national teams time to prepare for the World Cup after the league (LFP) asked FIFA for an extension until May 20.

''Those clubs that don't turn up to play the final round of matches as originally planned (May 13/14) will have to suffer the consequences,'' RFEF spokesman Jorge Carretero told sports daily AS today.

''We follow FIFA orders. We approved the calendar and the LFP cannot modify it. If clubs don't turn up they will be treated as having lost the game 3-0 and be deducted three points.

''They will also receive fines of between 3,000 and 12,000 euros.'' Playing the match, postponed on April 23 due to a waterlogged pitch, would be difficult with Sevilla meeting Middlesbrough in the UEFA Cup final on May 10. Barcelona face Arsenal in the Champions League final on May 17.

The two full rounds of matches remaining in the Spanish league season are scheduled for this weekend and May 13/14.

FIFA did give permission for the Sevilla-Barcelona match alone to be played on May 20 without World Cup players but the result could have a bearing on European qualification. The LFP have lodged an appeal against FIFA's decision in a Zurich court.

The clubs want the match played on May 13 and the final round of games to take place the following weekend with the involvement of international players.

They complain Sevilla would have an unfair advantage on May 20 because champions Barca will be shorn of most of their first-team squad who are involved in the World Cup.

Carretero said that league referees would not officiate at a full round of matches played on May 20.

REUTERS PG PM1744

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