- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

MADRID (AP) - Facing an embarrassing bureaucratic bungle that could cost his club dearly, president Florentino Perez said Thursday that Real Madrid “is not at fault” and shouldn’t be disqualified from the Copa del Rey for fielding an ineligible player.

Perez spoke publicly to defend his club hours after Cadiz filed an objection to Madrid fielding Denis Cheryshev, who carried over a one-game suspension from last season for accumulation of yellow cards while playing on loan for Villarreal.

The Spanish federation’s competition committee is expected to give its ruling on Friday.

On Wednesday, Cheryshev scored Madrid’s first goal of the 3-1 victory at Cadiz before coach Rafa Benitez substituted him early in the second half. The Russian-born winger was suspended after earning a third booking in last year’s semifinal against eventual champion Barcelona.

Perez gave two reasons why the sanction should not be applied.

Perez first said the sanction was “not applicable” because Cheryshev had “not been personally notified” that he was suspended.

“Nobody told the club or the player, not the federation nor Villarreal, so it was impossible for us to act differently,” Perez said. “It’s not our fault.”

Furthermore, Perez argued that according to the club’s interpretation of the competition by-laws, previous bookings are voided at the start of the round of 32.

Another, conflicting interpretation reported by Spanish media of this by-law says it is intended to only be applied to lower-division teams that play previous rounds before the topflight teams are included in the round of 32.

This was the second time in two weeks Perez has spoken to the media in response to a club crisis. With Benitez facing heavy criticism following a 4-0 loss to Barcelona, Perez publicly defended his first-year coach.

It is also the second time this season that Perez’s club is confronted with a embarrassing oversight. A late fax ruined the Madrid’s attempt to secure the transfer of Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea at the close of the summer transfer market.

Madrid fans’ frustration boiled over two weeks ago when Madrid lost to fierce rival Barcelona at home, with many calling for Benitez and Perez to step down.

Madrid plays its first game at the Santiago Bernabeu since then against Getafe on Saturday.

Athletic Bilbao found itself in an identical situation after signing Raul Garcia from Atletico Madrid while selecting a squad for Thursday’s Copa del Rey match at Linares.

Garcia carried over a suspension from last season’s cup competition, and coach Ernesto Valverde said on Wednesday- before Madrid’s match- he had dropped Garcia from his squad “because he is suspended.”

In September, the federation disqualified Osasuna from the Copa del Rey for fielding an ineligible player who carried over a suspension from the previous season.

In 2001-02, a Valencia side coached by Benitez was disqualified from the Copa del Rey for fielding four players without European passports at the same time.

Cadiz said that out of “maximum respect for Real Madrid and its fans,” the third-division club would not make any further public statements until the federation announces its ruling.

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