Valencia walked off the field midway through the first half of Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Cadiz after defender Mouctar Diakhaby claimed to have been racially abused by Juan Cala, only to return shortly after under controversial circumstances.
Diakhaby, who was seen crying in the tunnel, was substituted after the incident and left sat on the bench alone while the rest of his teammates played on – a decision which obviously left a lot of fans furious.
However, after the game, numerous sources started reporting on the fact that Valencia did not actually want to continue the game, but felt they had no other choice after they were repeatedly threatened with punishments if they remained in the dressing room.
“Diakhaby told us he heard a racist insult so we all went off the pitch,” defender Jose Gaya told Movistar (via BBC Sport). We were told that we had to play because if we didn’t, they would take the three points off us and maybe we’d be docked more points.
“Diakhaby asked us to play on. We wouldn’t have done so if he hadn’t done so. He said he wasn’t in the right state of mind to keep playing. He is devastated.”
This is where it all starts getting a little ugly. Cope claim to have had it confirmed to them by Valencia sources that it was referee Medie Jimenez who was threatening punishments if they did not complete the fixture, but Jimenez denied all responsibility in his match report and insisted (via Marca) that both teams took the decision to play on themselves.
Clearly unimpressed with the fact they were being accused of not standing alongside their team-mate, Valencia released a statement on their official website soon after in which they stressed that they only returned because of the referee’s threats.
On the other side of this story, Cala was substituted at half-time in the game, and Carrusel Deportivo state that is because he was in a state of ‘shock’ towards the allegations, which he vehemently denies.
Cadiz, who have a reputation for working towards the removal of discrimination in football, later confirmed in a statement that they will continue their fight while siding with Cala, who has their ‘complete trust’.
It’s an incredibly ugly situation and one which deserves a lengthy investigation. The two sides return from the tunnel with Diakhaby alone and crying on the bench made for uncomfortable viewing, and it felt like the opportunity to send a message was missed.