It was another banner day for racism in European soccer

Mouctar Diakhaby.
Mouctar Diakhaby.
Photo: Getty Images

There are few problems that La Liga can’t make worse. They’re giving the world a prime example of that in the past couple days.

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The saga between Valencia and Cadiz, and more to the point Mouctar Diakhaby of Valencia and Juan Cala of Cadiz, rolled on to more ridiculous and darker heights. To refresh your memory, Sunday’s match between the two clubs was halted in the first half when Valencia walked off the field to support Diakhaby, who accused Cala of racially abusing him. Cala denied any wrongdoing, and no official was within hearing distance of the incident. Valencia came back out to finish the game about 10 minutes later, and the story originally went that Diakhaby asked them to finish the match even though he was substituted because he didn’t feel he was in a place to continue, understandably.

What actually happened was that the ref told Valencia they would forfeit the points and face possible further punishment from La Liga if they didn’t return to the game, and neither Valencia nor Diakhaby wanted that on him. So to sum that up, it was only Valencia that faced punishment in the immediate aftermath, and Cala got to continue the match while Diakhaby didn’t. We’re off to a flying start. Oh yes, it’s just the start.

Yesterday, Cala called a bizarre press conference that wouldn’t have been out of place on Fox News where he loudly proclaimed his innocence, threatened to sue anyone within sight, and in an imbecilic choice of words, said he was the victim of “a public lynching.” He even called himself a victim, likening himself to Diakhaby.

Valencia and Diakhaby were having exactly none of it.

Meanwhile, La Liga continues to dither on what exactly it wants to do about the whole thing, because dithering and inaction are La Liga staples.

Though maybe doing nothing is better than what the Papa organization, UEFA, is doing about their latest racist incident. Again, a quick refresher: Glasgow Rangers FC midfielder Glen Kamara accused Slavia Prague defender Ondrej Kudela of racial abuse. The replays of the incident clearly show Kudela covering his mouth to whisper something into Kamara’s ear, which smells to high heaven. That caused something of a fracas, as Kudela, again understandably, reacted very angrily, as did teammates who were close enough to hear what happened. It’s what caused both Rangers and Celtic in the next match for Rangers to abandon taking the knee before kickoff, which has been emulated elsewhere since.

Well, UEFA finally got around to provisionally suspending Kudela for their first leg tie against Arsenal on Thursday while awaiting his hearing.

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However, UEFA have also opened an investigation against Kudela for assault for the physicality that ensued, who could face a five-game ban if he is found guilty. So yes, Kamara could be punished even more harshly for reacting to being racially abused than Kudela for doing the abusing. Quite a world.

At least Gareth Bale meted out some justice, or at least karma, to Kudela on his own terms last week.

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The question for anyone here is why Kamara or Diakhaby would make this kind of thing up when this is the kind of bullshit that awaits them when they do. It’s no secret they will become the center of a firestorm, and it’s a storm no one would actively choose to be a part of. What exactly La Liga and UEFA have to “investigate” is beyond comprehension.

While most dinosaurs and knuckle-draggers will run to the “innocent until proven guilty” overhang for safety, what they always fail to realize is that it goes both ways. By simply stating Cala or Kudela are innocent, we then are making both Diakhaby and Kamara guilty of false accusations and all that comes with it. While there is no satisfactory middle ground, it’s all ugly, that doesn’t mean we can’t seek it out. There is no comfortable way to deal with this sort of thing, that’s the whole point, and simply sprinting for some false canopy of security of “innocent until proven guilty” just poisons the air around the whole thing. It’s a way of shunting it all into the corner until facts come out, even though we already know them, and really hoping it’ll all just go away. And then absolve anyone of doing anything when something definitive can’t be produced, which it can’t really in situations like this beyond what’s already there. Which should be definitive enough, but isn’t ever for that crowd. Nothing ever is enough.

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Diakhaby and Kamara have nothing to gain by saying they’ve been racially abused, other than the still-forlorn hope of justice and punishment in the ever increasingly long road to change and evolution. In the meantime, they have to sift through this torrent of shit. Perhaps that’s more worthy of consideration than rushing to back claims of innocence from the unhinged.

We can't be too careful. Two guys in an airport...talking? It's a little fishy.