Cadiz defender Juan Cala strongly denied racially abusing Valencia's Mouctar Diakhaby during Sunday's 2-1 win in La Liga, saying he had been caught up in "a media circus" and "a public lynching".
In a first in Spanish football, Valencia's players left the pitch after Diakhaby reacted furiously following an altercation with Cala in the first half. Diakhaby told the referee he had been racially abused.
Valencia players eventually returned to the pitch and resumed the game, saying the referee had warned them that they could face a sanction otherwise. Diakhaby asked to be substituted but gave his blessing to the team to return.
The French defender spoke for the first time about the incident in a video posted on his official Twitter account on Tuesday, saying he had been "very hurt" and hoped La Liga would sanction Cala.
But Cala, speaking at a news conference, repeated that he had not racially abused Diakhaby and had only said "leave me in peace" following a dispute for the ball.
"What has happened is a media circus, a public lynching," Cala told a virtual news conference.
"The best thing would have been to get me and (Diakhaby) together in a room to explain what happened. Instead, it's been a circus. I was judged before the game was over."
Cala, 31, also lamented being assumed guilty of the insult without any audio proof.
"We've been playing in stadiums without fans for over a year. There are 20 or 25 cameras around, who knows how many microphones and no one heard (the insult). So at the very least let me have some doubt about what happened," he said.
Diakhaby said a Cadiz player had suggested the Valencia players could resume play if Cala apologised to him.
"Me and my teammates said 'No, it doesn't work like that, you can't just say something like that, apologise and move on'."
"I hope the league impose sanctions," he added.
Cala said he would "quit football tomorrow" if a team mate confirmed he had offered to apologise.
Valencia remains firm in its stance of backing Diakhaby's claim of being racially abused.
In an official statement released by the club in its website, it said, "Valencia CF are deeply saddened by statements made by Cádiz CF player Juan Cala this Tuesday, in which 48 hours later, he denied racially insulting Mouctar Diakhaby during the LaLiga match played last Sunday at the Ramón de Carranza."
"Cala has missed a great opportunity to accept his mistake and apologise to the player affected. Instead of doing this, he attacked both Diakhaby and other members of Valencia CF."
"Valencia CF wish to reiterate that we believe our player and back him completely. After the threats made by Cala in his press conference this Tuesday, April 6th, the Club, 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."
"Valencia CF will not stop fighting for an improvement in protocol and in the battle against racism in football."
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