Given Valencia would have been dealt with a 6-0 LOSS if they refused to return after Sunday’s walk-off due to an alleged racist insult directed at Mouctar Diakhaby… Marca’s headline of ‘Cadiz win, we all lose’ really stands out from this shameful episode
- Mouctar Diakhaby was visibly unhappy following a comment by a Cadiz player
- Diakhaby was devastated by the incident and felt he couldn’t return to the game
- However he urged his team-mates to continue to avoid the risk of forfeiting
- Valencia released a 10-point statement following the incident on Sunday
- Juan Cala has ‘strenuously denied’ allegations he racially abused Diakhaby
The image of Mouctar Diakhaby, sat in the stands as a game of football he no longer felt he could take part in continued regardless, could yet mark a turning point in the way racism is confronted in football.
But on Monday morning in Spain, it was being seen more as just another example of how accusations of racist abuse are still not seen as serious enough to bring the sport to a grinding halt.
Things have come some way since February 2006 when Samuel Eto’o was racially abused by spectators during Barcelona’s game away at Zaragoza. When he wanted to leave the pitch because of the abuse, he was persuaded to stay on by his own team-mates.
Mouctar Diakhaby (second-right) leaves the pitch after allegedly receiving a racist comment
Valencia defender Diakhaby was unhappy following a comment by a Cadiz player on Sunday
This time Valencia’s players supported Diakhaby and followed him off the pitch. But Marca columnist Fernando Alvarez wrote on Monday: ‘Valencia lost an historic opportunity to make itself a symbol of the condemnation of the racism that has soiled the sport for so many years.’
For many, Valencia should have gone further than walking off: they should have stayed off, refusing to play the game. This was a chance to move beyond the attitude that says: yes this is serious but let’s just decide who gets the three points here first, and then we can sort it out.
How this plays out from here will depend on several things. On Tuesday Juan Cala, the Cadiz player accused by Diakhaby of calling him ‘Negro de mierda’ (‘F****** black’), will give a press conference after training.
His coach Alvaro Cervera spoke after Sunday’s game to say: ‘Cala says in no moment did he insult him (Diakhaby). When the players came back in (after both teams went off) we spoke and I explained to him that he had a yellow card already and that I feared the worst, but he asked me to leave him on until half time.
‘Then in the break we spoke again and he insisted that he had not insulted anyone but I saw that he was very affected by what was happening, and he had a card, so I took him off.’
Diakhaby explained his position to the referee before deciding to walk off in the first-half
For now, there is no audiovisual record of the insult, neither from Movistar, who broadcasted the game live on Sunday afternoon, nor from their requests to Mediapro the producers of football in Spain.
The reactions from Diakhaby and the players around him are there, however, to be played and replayed during Monday’s usual round of weekend highlights shows. The most striking one is from Gabriel Paulista. While the Valencia defender calms Diakhaby down, he turns to the pitch-side camera and shouts: ‘These things have to be looked at! (‘Negro de mierda’ no, eh!’)
Article 142 of the Spanish Federation’s disciplinary code means that Valencia would have lost the game 6-0 had they not reemerged to play it to its conclusion. That was made clear to them during the time they were off the pitch.
They reemerged with Diakhaby telling his team-mates to finish the game, but that he could not continue.
The match was suspended after 30 minutes when the Valencia players walked off the pitch
This was a chance to mark a ‘before and after’ moment in the sport, continued Marca columnist Alvarez. The message would have been loud and clear: the fight against racism is more important than three points, we don’t care if we plunge ourselves into a relegation fight because of it.
‘Cadiz win, we all lose’ was the headline on the Marca match report of the LaLiga clash
As it was, Valencia went back out on to the pitch with Diakhaby watching from the stands and that was the image Marca used on its front page on Monday morning.
Marca going with that image and not leading on a preview of Liverpool vs Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid’s defeat to Sevilla is another sign of change.
These incidents are no longer relegated to one paragraph stories. ‘Cadiz win, we all lose’ was the headline on the match report of the game that ended 2-1 to Cadiz.
After the match referee David Medie Jimenez’s report made record of Diakhaby having accused Cala of calling him ‘negro de mierda’, but added that the racist insult was ‘not perceived by anyone in the refereeing team’.
Ahead of Cala’s press conference on Tuesday La Liga issued a statement: ‘We take any allegation of racism seriously and will work with the clubs and refereeing establishment to do whatever is necessary to protect the values of equality and respect that prevail in our Spanish professional football competition.’
Valencia’s 10-point statement ‘No To Racism’
1. Mouctar Diakhaby today became the latest victim of racism in football.
2. After receiving a racial insult -unacceptable in any circumstances- he was shown a yellow card for his protests.
3. We are proud of the support that Diakhaby received from his teammates, and of the decision taken to leave the field of play together.
4. We trust that the matter will be investigated.
5. We are disappointed that no official decision was taken.
6. The Club does not ask the players to return to the pitch. The referee informed the players of the consequences of not going back out onto the field of play. The players, forced to play under threat of penalty after the racist insults and the yellow card to Diakhaby, decide to return to the pitch.
7. Diakhaby requested that his teammates return to the pitch to continue the game. They respected his wish.
8. The events of today should not be repeated ever again on a football pitch.
9. Valencia CF strongly oppose racism in all forms and stands with Diakhaby. Today is a sad day for our sport.
10. Today was not a loss in a game. It was a loss respect, a loss of the spirit of football and sport.
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