Valencia and Betis angry over kickoff time changes for teargas tribute

Liga rejigs schedule to accommodate special recognition of Villarreal fans’ “civic” behavior

Villarreal' s forward Jonathan Pereira kicks the teargas cannister thrown onto the field during the match against Villarreal.
Villarreal' s forward Jonathan Pereira kicks the teargas cannister thrown onto the field during the match against Villarreal.JOSé JORDáN / AFP

Directors and fans at Valencia and Betis soccer clubs are furious at the LFP professional soccer league’s decision to change the kickoff times of two matches to accommodate a tribute to Villarreal supporters for their “civic” behavior during the evacuation of their stadium last weekend.

The whole of El Madrigal had to be cleared and the home team’s match against Celta Vigo suspended for around 20 minutes on Saturday when a teargas canister was thrown onto the pitch by a masked individual.

LFP president Javier Tebas has decided to move the time of the Rayo Vallecano-Valencia match in week 26 from 12 noon to 9pm and that of the same day’s Villarreal-Betis game from 9pm to 12 noon to fit in the tribute. The move ruins the travel plans of “hundreds” of Valencia supporters, who had planned to journey to Rayo’s Vallecas ground on Sunday morning.

The Mestalla-based club said such changes should only be made in extreme circumstance and accused Tebas of changing the schedule to suit the agenda of Valencia regional premier Alberto Fabra, who is rumored to wish to attend the event. The regional government denied Fabra had been the cause of the change.

Valencia has also had to swallow another scheduling change this week. As a result of the ongoing confrontations between police and opponents of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s regime in Kiev, its Thursday night Europa League clash against Dynamo Kyiv has been moved to the Cypriot capital of Nicosia.