Valencia defender Gabriel Paulista has spoken out in support of his teammate Mouctar Diakhaby, who claimed he was racially abused by Cadiz’s Juan Cala during Sunday’s La Liga game. Paulista said that many things can happen on the pitch, but racist abuse is absolutely crossing the line.
“You can’t offend a person in this way,” Paulista said in comments carried by Cope. “It’s a lack of respect for the human being. I don’t care about my colour or my [the colour of my ] teammates. We’re all the same and these things cannot happen anymore. We have to treat everyone the same.
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“I believe Diakhaby. We know what he’s like. He’s very shy, very calm, but he gets really angry [when the alleged abuse occurred]. I believe in him a lot. He’s not going to make up that kind of thing. There’s a disputed ball and suddenly he leaves his area to argue with an opposing player. It’s no lie. I, the squad, the club, everyone are by Diakhaby’s side. These things can’t happen.”
La Liga have expedited an investigation with the idea of sending the sounds in which the controversy took place to a specialised company in order to clean and enhance the audio within which the attack is said to have occurred. Cadiz’s match with Valencia was interrupted for 25 minutes due to the alleged racist insult, with the game effectively paused in the 36th minute. Valencia left the field after the incident only to return, without Diakhaby, minutes later. Cala continued until half-time.
Now 30, Paulista is a key leader in this Valencia team. Born in Sao Paulo, the Brazilian began his career with Tabao de Serra before joining Vitoria at 19. He spent three years there as a senior professional before crossing the Atlantic to join Villarreal, signing for Valencia after a two-year stint with Arsenal in between.