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Apr 26, 2011

Spain suffering from new delay tactic

Spanish football is being hit by a new wave unsportsmanlike behaviour as a trend of throwing extra balls onto the field to halt the play continues.

While there has been a growing number of balls appearing on the pitch during La Liga games this season - with Real Madrid's trip to Osasuna and Zaragoza's win over Getafe attracting attention - the most brazen use of the tactic as yet came on Sunday when video replays showed a ball boy deliberately tossing another ball onto the field as Villarreal tried to salvage a point in their eventual 3-2 defeat to Sevilla.

"Futbol is played with one ball... some people should learn before coming to stadiums and ruining a nice, exciting game," Villarreal striker Giuseppe Rossi wrote on Twitter after the game.

Match official Alberto Undiano Mallenco even made mention of the extra balls in his match report, but with the Spanish football federation's disciplinary committee already fining clubs a paltry €600 this season, a similar penalty is unlikely to make much of a difference.

"We should look at altering the regulations," federation spokesman Jorge Carretero told The Associated Press. "The rules need to generate fines that are relative to the penalty. The problem with the current regulations is that they say a higher sanction can only be applied if the penalty is of a violent nature.

"[However] If it doesn't break the law according to statutes, then the committee can't really do much.''

Villarreal goalkeeper Diego Lopez pushed aside a ball boy who he thought was trying to waste time.

"It's something you shouldn't expect to see at the stadium. In those moments when you're losing and they do these types of things you feel ready to act out stupidly, but you have to control yourself," Lopez said. "What can you do? It's shameful. It's a question of sportsmanship."

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