‘Forced to play after threat’: Valencia return to finish game after alleged racial insult sparks walk-off

Valencia players walked off the field during a Spanish league game at Cadiz after one of their stars alleged he was racially insulted by an opponent. The club said it resumed the La Liga clash after feeling threatened by the referee with the loss of points.

Valencia left the field when Mouctar Diakhaby alleged he was insulted by Cadiz defender Juan Cala, who has denied any wrongdoing. The team returned more than 20 minutes later.

Mouctar Diakhaby alleged he was racially insulted by a rival player.Credit:Getty

“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.”

The club said earlier the decision to return was made after a request 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 on Twitter. “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.


Valencia captain Jose Luis Gaya said Diakhaby was “devastated” and wasn’t in condition to keep playing.

“It was a very ugly insult,” Gaya said. “I won’t say what it was.”

The captain said they hadn’t talked with Cala, but that by the way Diakhaby reacted he was “sure” something was said to him.

Cadiz coach Alvaro Cervera said Cala told him he didn’t insult anybody and he believed his player.

‘We need to condemn these actions when they occur, but I believe what my player told me.’

“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 is a “good teammate” and is always very “respectful” of others.

The Spanish league has so far not commented on the incident.

Sanctions could be imposed if Valencia make an official complaint to the Spanish football 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 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, who had tried to avoid it at first.

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,” Gaya said. “Diakhaby said we should return and that’s why we did it. We wouldn’t have returned without his permission.”

Diakhaby did not continue playing, though, with Hugo Guillamon coming on.

Cala continued playing but was substituted at half-time. He had scored the team’s opening goal in the 14th minute.

Cadiz won the match 2-1 thanks to an 88th-minute header by Mauro. Kevin Gameiro had equalised 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.”


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