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Barcelona avoids scare over ineligible player, stays in Copa

(AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona will not be penalized in the Copa del Rey.

Levante's complaint that Barcelona used an illegible player arrived after the 48-hour deadline, the Spanish soccer federation said Friday.

The judge overseeing competition disputes ruled to "maintain the result of the tie and keep FC Barcelona in the draw for the quarterfinals" because Levante's complaint was filed almost a week too late.

Levante complained that Barcelona used youth player Juan "Chumi" Brandariz on Jan. 10 after the defender incurred a one-match suspension while playing with the club's reserve team in the third division. But Levante didn't realize the possible irregularity until a week later.

Levante won the first leg 2-1, but Barcelona overturned the result on Thursday in the second leg to go through 4-2 on aggregate.

Levante presented the complaint to the federation on Friday.

Barcelona said it did nothing wrong, arguing that Chumi should serve his suspension in the third division.

Levante said that it will appeal the ruling.

Barcelona has won the Copa del Rey for four seasons in a row.

The decision by the judge came minutes before the draw for the quarterfinals, when Barcelona was paired with Sevilla in a rematch of last year's final.

In 2015, Real Madrid was eliminated in the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey for using striker Denis Cheryshev while he was suspended.

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Updated January 18, 2019

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