Spanish football club Valencia said in a statement that its players were forced to play on after walking off during a match in protest against an alleged racial slur uttered by a player from the opposing team, Cadiz.
Valencia defender Mouctar Diakhaby, who is of Guinean descent, collided with Spanish defender Juan Cala and the pair exchanged words. Diakhaby was shown a yellow card for his part in the scuffle – but he explained to the referee that Cala used racist language before walking off the pitch with his teammates.
The game was stopped at 1-1, marking the first time a La Liga match has been halted due to an accusation of racism.
However, Valencia's players returned to the pitch 20 minutes later after discussing the best course of action to take.
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
The club later said in a statement that the players were afraid the club would lose league points.
"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."
Valencia also later expressed its support to Diakhaby, saying he has its “complete backing."
Today, tomorrow and always:— Valencia CF 🦇🍊🌊 (@valenciacf_en) April 5, 2021
𝗦𝗧𝗢𝗣 𝗥𝗔𝗖𝗜𝗦𝗠! 🖐🖐🏻🖐🏼🖐🏽🖐🏾🖐🏿
Our full backing to @Diakhaby_5.
We’ll fight until the end to clarify what happened, defend our player and eradicate racism!
#JuntsAnemAmunt #AllToPlayFor pic.twitter.com/RygaquFZlN
Cadiz coach Alvaro Cervera on the other hand offered his support for his team’s player, saying that Cala had assured him he had not racially abused Diakhaby.
Cadiz said that the club was "against all forms of racism or xenophobia," adding that it has complete confidence in its squad members.