Real Madrid could be without one of its best defenders for a semifinal match in the Champions League next week because he was randomly selected to work a shift at the polls during local elections in Madrid.
Marcelo, a fullback who started the first leg of Real Madrid’s semifinal against Chelsea on Tuesday in Spain, was randomly selected by the Spanish government to work at the polls on May 4, when there will be elections for seats in the Madrid Assembly, El Mundo reported. A second Madrid player, Victor Chust, was also selected, but is injured and will not be missed by the team.
All registered voters in Spain are eligible to be randomly selected to work at the polls. Though Marcelo, 32, was born in Brazil, he has played for Real since 2007 and has been a Spanish citizen for a decade.
Spanish law allows for exemptions, which may be given for “professionals who must participate in public events to be held on the voting day that are scheduled before the electoral call when the party cannot be replaced and his nonparticipation forces suspension of the event, producing economic damages.”
In the past, soccer players and others with pressing business have been excused from the polling duty. In 2019, for example, Aitor Fernández, a Levante goalkeeper, did not have to work the polls because his team had a match that day.
Even leaving aside whether Marcelo is irreplaceable and whether the game would have to be canceled in his absence, there is another problem for Real’s appeal: In the case of Fernandez, his game was the same day as the election. In Marcelo’s case, the second leg of the semifinal against Chelsea in London is not until the following evening. But Real Madrid is planning to travel to England a day early, the same date of the elections, and because of coronavirus protocols it may not be possible for Marcelo to make the trip on game day.
El Mundo reported that Marcelo was “very upset by his electoral luck.” Real Madrid and Chelsea tied the first leg, 1-1, on Tuesday, when Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic became the first American to score in the semifinals of the competition.
If he has to stay behind, Marcelo will at least pick up a small bonus: Poll workers are paid 65 euros ($78) for their day’s work.
A logical replacement for Marcelo at left back would be Ferland Mendy, but it is not clear if he will be ready to return from a calf injury.