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During Real Madrid’s fiery 1-1 draw against Athletic Bilbao at San Mames last night, everybody’s favourite Ballon d’Or winner, Ronaldo, was sent off after reacting toreacting to a shove by Carlos Gurpegi and picking a fight with Ander Iturraspe.

Well, the Bilbao boys are Basques after all, so the fighting spirit is in their history and their DNA, but you could probably argue that the referee wanted to send Ronaldo off simply for the sake of it. There was hardly any contact as he waved his hands towards the defender’s face, so what was the point of the red card, anyway? So thatMiguel the referee could say : “Hermano, one time, I sent Cristiano packing!” at the next Christmas family dinner? Nobody can fault that story!

Real Madrid have gone 20 consecutive games unbeaten in all competitions, but now lie in third place on the La Liga table. Their rivals Atletico Madrid, soared to a 4-0 win over Sociedad, which places them at the top with 57 points.

After Racing Santander’s decision not to play in the Copa del Rey due to non-payment of their wages, the Spanish football federation (RFEF), reacted by imposing a penalty and fine of 3,000 ($4050) on the stricken club.

A statement on the federation’s official website said: “The non-appearing club will not be able to participate in the next edition of the Copa del Rey,” referring to Racing, who have been ridden with debt in recent years and had to enter administration.

The Racing players warned before the match that they would “take action” unless the club’s board resigned and wages were paid on time. The club staff and players have reportedly not been paid for six months.

“We feel touched. We regret having to make this decision but we have done it out of respect to football, the sport that we love, and to ourselves,” said coach Paco Fernandez.