Valencia players say they were “forced” to resume their Spanish La Liga game with Cadiz after they walked off the field after one of their players said he was racially insulted by an opponent.
- The Valencia players left the field shortly before the half hour mark with the score at 1-1
- Mouctar Diakhaby did not return after the ‘ugly insult’ when play resumed after a break of 20 minutes
- Valencia later said they had been told of the ‘potential consequences’ of not returning to the field
Valencia left the field after Mouctar Diakhaby said he was insulted by Cádiz defender Juan Cala, who has denied any wrongdoing.
The team 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 club 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,” it said in its Twitter account in English.
“The player, who had received a racial insult, requested that his teammates return to the pitch.”
Valencia said it offered its “complete backing” to Diakhaby in a subsequent tweet, saying “we support you Mouctar”.
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.”
Cadiz defender Marcos Mauro avoided talking about the incident but said Cala was a “good teammate” and always very “respectful” of others.
The Spanish league has not so far commented on the incident.
Sanctions could be imposed if Valencia makes an official complaint to the Spanish soccer federation after the referee’s game report is released.
The club said it hoped the incident would be fully investigated.
The match was nearing the 30th minute — with the score 1-1 at the time — when Diakhaby and Cala clashed while going for the ball.
An exchange of words appeared to upset French defender Diakhaby, and the two players shortly after got into an altercation near midfield, with their teammates having to break them apart.
Diakhaby was immediately shown a yellow card for the altercation with Cala.
After speaking with the referee, Diakhaby and his teammates left the field and went into the locker rooms. The Valencia players returned several minutes later to resume the game, with the team saying it was abiding by Diakhaby’s request.
“We were told that if we didn’t come back we could lose the three points and maybe more,” Gayà said, without elaborating on who told them to resume playing.
Diakhaby did not continue playing, though, with Hugo Guillamón coming on.
Cala continued playing but was substituted at half time. He had scored the team’s opening goal in the 14th minute.
Cádiz won the match 2-1 thanks to an 88th-minute header by Mauro, moving further away from the relegation zone.
Kevin Gameiro had equalized for 12th-place Valencia in the 19th minute.
“Today is a sad day for our sport,” Valencia said.
“We didn’t lose only a match, we lost the respect and the spirit of soccer and of sport.”