There was controversial news this week as Aspe invoked the new rule, agreed between the empresas before the Pairs Championship, which states a player can be replaced if his performance falls below the standard expected. They have taken Sebastien Gonzalez out of the competition, citing a poor showing and lack of sporting conduct. He will be replaced for the rest of the championship by Joseba Ezkurdia, who makes his debut. Word is that the empresa decided late on whether to enter Gonzalez or Ezkurdia in the first instance and now clearly believe they made the wrong decision. Ezkurdia’s surprisingly swift recovery from a shoulder injury sustained last week opens the door for his appearance alongside Zubieta from the seventh rotation onwards. He will have his work cut out to help Zubieta qualify, with his pair having lost five games and won only one.
This news represents the latest in a series of rifts between Gonzalez and Aspe. Last year, the forward was publicly critical of the inclusion of Aritz Lasa in the championship at his expense and was later forced to apologise. The chance he was given this year was presumably his final one to prove his worth as a top tier player and he has been unavailable for comment ever since the decision to replace him was announced. It is hard to see how he can work with Aspe in the future.