MADRID (AP) — Valencia player Mouctar Diakhaby talked about being the victim of an intolerable and hurtful racial insult. Cádiz defender Juan Cala spoke about the shock of being accused without proof and becoming a villain.
Diakhaby, who is Black, wants action from soccer officials. Cala wants an apology.
The players at the center of this weekend’s incident spoke publicly on Tuesday, telling contrasting versions of what happened in Sunday’s Spanish league match between Valencia and Cádiz.
Diakhaby reiterated he was insulted and described the obscene language used against him. Cala guaranteed he never used those words and said he will sue those accusing him without evidence.
Diakhaby, who is French, broke his silence with a video published on social media. He spoke Spanish in the video.
“After two days I’m calmer and I want to talk about what happened. There is a play and a player insulted me,” he said, repeating the language he said was used against him. “This is intolerable. You all have seen my reaction. This can’t happen in normal life and especially not in soccer.”
He said after his teammates walked off the field, a player from Cádiz asked if they would return if Cala apologized, but “we said ‘no,’ you can’t do something like that and then just apologize.”
Valencia returned to the field after saying the squad felt threatened by the referee with the prospect of a loss of points. The club said Diakhaby told his teammates it was OK for them to return.
“I’m fine now, but it was very hurtful,” Diakhaby said. “I hope that the league takes action and clarifies everything with evidence.”
The French player also thanked his club, teammates and fans for the support given to him.
Cala, who is Spanish, later spoke at a news conference organized by Cádiz. He said he wanted to give his version immediately after the match but was told by the club to wait.
He said he was in shock and complained of the “circus” created over the incident before he could even be heard.
“I was judged even before the match ended, without any proof,” he said. “No one deserves this type of lynching.”
He said it was strange that no one else heard the insult against Diakhaby, not on the field or at home through the dozens of cameras that were used in the television broadcast at the empty Ramón de Carranza Stadium.
The defender said he tried to tell Diakhaby during the game that he didn’t insult him. Cala said the only words he used after getting together with Diakhaby were “leave me alone.”
He said the French player either misunderstood him or was making up the accusation. Cala said he wouldn’t mind sitting down with Diakhaby and explaining what kind of person he is, but he feels he has already been unfairly judged by everyone.
“Here is my phone, they can call me to apologize for what I’ve had to go through,” said Cala, who mentioned he received many threats and that his family was suffering because of the situation. “I would love, for the good of the country, for someone to call me and apologize.”
Cala was especially upset with Valencia president Anil Murthy, who on Monday directly accused Cala on a video published by the club and said the Cádiz player had the look of a guilty person.
“My lawyers will take care of it,” he said, adding that even Diakhaby could be targeted by legal action. “I’ll defend my honor until the end.”
Cala said he doesn’t believe racism exists among players in Spanish soccer and noted that he never had any problems without anyone else in the 12 years he played professionally in four different leagues.
He said he received hundreds of messages of support from people across the soccer world. He said the club and his Cádiz teammates remained fully behind him.
Valencia quickly reacted after Cala’s new conference with a statement titled “Juan Cala, we don’t believe you.”
“Cala has missed a great opportunity to accept his mistake and apologize to the player affected. Instead of doing this, he attacked both Diakhaby and other members of Valencia CF,” the club said, adding that it supported and believed its player “completely.”
“After the threats made by Cala in his press conference, president Anil Murthy and Mouctar Diakhaby himself remain firm in the conviction to fight to the end, wherever necessary, on the matter for the good of football and society,” the club said. “Valencia CF will not stop fighting for an improvement in protocol and in the battle against racism in football.”
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