Opinion | LaLiga Santander The opinion of Fernando Alvarez
Valencia missed an historic opportunity to become a symbol of the fight against the racism which has tarnished football for too many years. But their lack of conviction shouldn’t confuse the roles here. Valencia are the victim, yet their threat to protest and their return to the field makes them just another actor in a system that makes room for comments like “well it’s no big deal”, “it’s just like any other insult on a football pitch” or “they’re just joking”.
Mouctar Diakhaby was verbally abused in a disgusting way within the field of play, where the aggressor received no punishment because he did it where the authorities – the referee – didn’t hear it. It remains to be seen whether a camera has captured an image or a sound that can be used as evidence against Juan Cala.
The Valencia players set an example with their spontaneous reaction. “We’re off!” they said in support of their teammate. And everyone went off down the tunnel. But when you leave the field, you don’t do it to come back later or to wait and see what happens. Those images and those of a dejected Diakhaby in the stands should’ve served for 100 condemning statements. The fact that Diakhaby asked for his teammates to play on isn’t enough of a reason to do so because the decision should’ve been in the club’s hands.
Jose Gaya who, as well as being captain is a level-headed person, explained the situation at full time. “They told us that, if we didn’t go back out, we’d lose the three points and maybe something else,” he revealed. If Valencia were playing for something in LaLiga Santander, it would’ve at least been debatable whether they should’ve played – and lost – the game. But in a season of transition, the club came across a unique opportunity to mark a before and after in Spanish football. I don’t know if there was anyone above the coach – was it Javi Gracia? – and the captains in the dressing room and what kind of threat can influence the will of a united squad and, above all, a strong club.
Valencia, in the end, lost three points on the field of play – that can happen, especially in a season like this. The defeat, and the explanations of the threat of a sanction, demonstrate the weakness of a club that is incapable of not only standing up to a cowardly insult but setting an example that would’ve gone into the history books. Then watch them take photos showing their intolerance of racism for Instagram before a training session. This said, I hope another opportunity like this doesn’t come up because that would be a good sign.