Valencia walk off pitch after alleged racial abuse

Valencia said Diakhaby later asked his teammates to return to the pitch, although he watched the rest of the game from the stands [File: David Klein/Reuters]
Valencia said Diakhaby later asked his teammates to return to the pitch, although he watched the rest of the game from the stands [File: David Klein/Reuters]

Valencia’s players walked off the pitch during a Spanish league match at Cadiz after defender Mouctar Diakhaby accused an opponent of racially abusing him.

The players eventually returned to the pitch at the request of Diakhaby, who had shared a heated exchange with Cadiz’s Juan Cala during the La Liga match on Sunday before indicating to the referee he was leaving the field, with the Frenchman’s team-mates then following him off in the 37th minute.

Cadiz also went down the tunnel soon after.

Around 15 minutes later, the Valencia team returned and a further five minutes afterwards the game restarted, this time without Diakhaby.

A statement from Valencia said the team decided to resume playing “to fight for the honour of the club, but denounce racism of any kind”.

 

A second club statement added that Diakhaby had asked his teammates to return to the pitch.

“We support you Mouctar,” said the statement on Twitter.

Diakhaby was replaced by Hugo Guillamon and watched the second half sitting in the stands.

Valencia coach Javi Gracia later claimed they were told they would be punished if they refused to resume the match.

“In the changing rooms we were told if we didn’t return, we would be sanctioned,” said Gracia, who would not specify who had made the threat.

“In that moment, we spoke with Diakha, about how he was, and he told us that he wouldn’t play but he understood perfectly we had to continue playing to avoid a possible sanction, so we returned.”

Cadiz coach Alvaro Cervera said Cala insisted he had not racially insulted Diakhaby.

“We returned to the changing room, we talked,” Cervera said. “Cala said that at no time did he insult the player. I believe in my player.”

La Liga would not comment on the incident after the match.

An official complaint from Valencia or mention of the incident in the referee’s report could lead to further investigation and sanctions against Cadiz.

President of the Valencian regional government Ximo Puig wrote on Twitter: “Equality and rejection of racism. That is the most important match. A hug to Diakhaby. This is his house, his land.”

Defender Cala gave Cadiz the lead in the 14th minute although Kevin Gameiro soon equalised for the visitors.

Cala stayed on the pitch after the game resumed and Diakhaby had gone off, although he too was substituted at half time for Marcos Mauro, who scored the 88th-minute winner for Cadiz.

Last month, Athletic Bilbao’s Inaki Williams gave evidence in court as part of an investigation into Espanyol fans racially insulting him during a match in January last year.

In December 2019, a second tier game between Rayo Vallecano and Albacete was suspended after Albacete refused to come out for the second half following chants from Rayo fans calling their striker Roman Zozulya a Nazi.

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