Diakhaby stays away from anti-racism banner before Valencia game
MADRID (AP) — Valencia defender Mouctar Diakhaby didn’t pose by an anti-racism banner with his teammates before Valencia’s loss at Mallorca in the Spanish league on Thursday.
The banner with the words “racists out of football” is being displayed in every league match after Real Madrid forward Vinícius Júnior was racially abused by fans in a match against Valencia on Sunday.
While players from both teams and the refereeing crew stood by the banner before kickoff, Diakhaby wandered behind them stretching and waiting for the ceremony to end.
Diakhaby, who is Black, accused an opponent of racism in 2021 but nothing was done because officials said at the time there was not enough evidence showing he was abused. He loudly complained against soccer officials at the time for failing to corroborate his accusation.
On the day Vinícius was abused in Valencia, Diakhaby posted a message of support for the Brazil forward and said he hoped his club would take all the necessary measures to strongly punish those involved.
Three fans were arrested for the abuse against Vinícius and Valencia said it banned them from life from Mestalla Stadium.
The banners are part of a new anti-racism campaign launched jointly by the Spanish league, the Spanish federation and the Spanish government.
The loss kept Valencia in danger of relegation ahead of the final two rounds. It is in 13th place but only two points outside the relegation zone.
It next hosts second-to-last place Espanyol on Sunday, when part of its Mestalla Stadium will be closed because of the abuse against Vinícius last weekend. The team's initial appeal against the sanction was denied on Thursday.
Valencia coach Rubén Baraja said he didn't think his players “were affected” by the occurrences in the last few days related to the abuse against Vinícius. The club was also fined in 45,000 euros ($48,200). Valencia beat Madrid 1-0 on Sunday.
Vedat Muriqi scored a 64th-minute winner for the hosts, who moved into 11th place.
Also Thursday, Osasuna reached seventh place — and the final European place — with a 2-0 win at home against Athletic Bilbao. Athletic, which has only one win in its last six league games, dropped to eighth.
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press