Valencia 'forced to play' game after alleged racial insult
MADRID, Spain (AP):
Valencia stopped playing their LaLiga game at Cádiz on Sunday and walked off the field after one of their players said he was racially insulted by an opponent. The club said it resumed the game after feeling threatened by the referee with the loss of points.
Valencia left the field after Mouctar Diakhaby said he was insulted by Cádiz defender Juan Cala, who denied any wrongdoing. Cádiz, from southern Spain, condemned racism but said they "cannot comment on incidents that arise between players during the course of play."
Valencia returned more than 20 minutes later.
"The referee told the players about the potential consequences of not returning to the field," the club said in a statement. "The players were forced to play after the threat of punishment."
Valencia had said earlier that the decision to return was made after a request to do so by Diakhaby, who is Black.
"The team have held a meeting and decided to continue the game, in order to fight for the honour of the club, but denounce racism of any kind," Valencia said on their Twitter account in English. "The player, who had received a racial insult, requested that his teammates return to the pitch."
Cádiz said they are "against all forms of racism or xenophobia" by anybody and that they work "hard to help eradicate" them.
"Anyone guilty of such an offence, whether or not they belong to our team, must be punished," Cádiz said in a statement.
The club reiterated that it has "complete confidence in the integrity of our squad members, who are staunch supporters of the fight against racism and have at all times shown an exemplary attitude in every match the team has played."
Valencia said they offered their "complete backing" to Diakhaby.
"WE SUPPORT YOU MOUCTAR," they wrote.
Valencia captain José Luis Gayà said Diakhaby was "devastated" and wasn't in condition to keep playing.
"It was a very ugly insult," Gayà said. "I won't say what it was."
The captain said they hadn't talked with Cala, but that by the way Diakhaby was reacting, he was "sure" that something was said to him.
Cádiz coach Álvaro Cervera said Cala told him he didn't insult anybody and that he believed his player.
"He told me that he never insulted the other player," Cervera said. "We need to condemn these actions when they occur, but I believe what my player told me."
Cádiz defender Marcos Mauro avoided talking about the incident but said Cala is a "good teammate" and is always very "respectful" of others.
The Spanish league has not so far commented on the incident.