Valencia walked off the pitch on Sunday during their Liga clash with Cadiz after defender Mouctar Diakhaby claimed he was racially abused by an opponent, Juan Cala.
Diakhaby was visibly upset after an altercation with Cala, with the game halting in the 30th minute as the two argued on the field.
Valencia proceeded to walk off the pitch in the wake of the incident, with Diakhaby then reportedly urging his team-mates to return to the pitch with the squad facing the threat of docket points for abandoning the action. The club then issued a statement backing its player, writing on social media: "WE SUPPORT YOU MOUCTAR."
The incident began with the score at 1-1 in the 29th minute, with centre-back Diakhaby moving into the midfield to confront Cala.
As play continued around them, the two were seen in a heated exchange before the referee moved to break up the pair.
Diakhaby was seen to be visibly upset as team-mates looked to break up the altercation before several moved to confront Cala themselves. Valencia then opted to walk off the pitch in support of Diakhaby.
After about 15 minutes, Valencia returned to the field, with the club saying they did so due to Diakhaby's insistence that the game should continue.
𝗡𝗢 𝗧𝗢 𝗥𝗔𝗖𝗜𝗦𝗠 ✊🏽✊🏿— Valencia CF 🦇🍊🌊 (@valenciacf_en) April 4, 2021
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.#CádizValencia
We offer our complete backing to @Diakhaby_5— Valencia CF 🦇🍊🌊 (@valenciacf_en) April 4, 2021
The player, who had received a racial insult, requested that his teammates return to the pitch.
WE SUPPORT YOU MOUCTAR
𝗡𝗢 𝗧𝗢 𝗥𝗔𝗖𝗜𝗦𝗠 ✊🏽✊🏿 pic.twitter.com/iPtPSpdNYv
Diakhaby, though, did not return and was replaced by Hugo Guillamon while Cala stayed on the field for Cadiz.
Cadiz went on to win the game 2-1 with Marcos Mauro scoring the game-winner in the 88th minute.
What was said?
"Diakhaby has told us that they have insulted him and, from Valencia, we condemn that," Valencia's Jose Gaya said after the match. "We left the field for that, but they have told us that we had to leave [the dressing room] because if we did not, they could take three points and maybe more from us.
"Diakhaby has told us to come back to the field and that is why we went out. He wanted us to go out. Without his permission, we would not have done it. "
Gaya added: "He was not ready to go out. He is sunk. It is a very ugly insult, I am not going to say it. Cala was the last to go out on the field and did not speak to him."
FIFPro expressed "serious concerns" about the incident and said it exposes the lack of protection for players in the face of discrimination.
"The situation in the match [Cadiz vs Valencia] today raises serious concerns. We will be monitoring the situation around the match together with our colleagues from [Association of Spanish Footballers]," a statement published on Twitter read.
"Whilst a lot is yet to be investigated, the notion that pressure existed towards a team that responded in collective solidarity with a teammate to continue a match under threat of sanction shows flaws in both the regulation and the response to anti-discrimination action.
"Tonight’s events show again that the protocols built to protect players in situations of discriminatory abuse are actually prioritizing protection of the match, which is not only a failure of the system but can also further harm the individuals who are already impacted."
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