Rio Ferdinand has offered his support to Valencia players after they left the field of play following the alleged racist abuse of Mouctar Diakhaby by an opponent.
The La Liga clash with Cadiz was briefly paused following the incident, but continued after Diakhaby asked his colleagues to return after being informed of the consequences by the referee.
Valencia have since released a statement condemning the alleged abuse, saying that their 2-1 defeat was irrelevant during what was a sad day for the sport.
Former Manchester United and England defender Ferdinand offered his thoughts before his former side took on Brighton in the Premier League, and outlined his support for Diakhaby.
Ferdinand told BT Sport when asked about the players leaving the pitch: “I 100 per cent support that. It’s something that’s going to have a huge impact.
“Yes they came out after a period of time to restart the game, and I think it’s only a matter of time before a game will be stopped completely.
“If it’s 35 minutes that has been played, the players come off – and I think that’s the next stage, the next step. It shows us that the people feel confident that they can do that now with the support they’re getting.
“So it’s a step in the right direction, but I think big steps are still to be made.”
Cadiz have since responded to the allegation, saying: “We are against all forms of racism or xenophobia, regardless of who is responsible, and work hard to help eradicate this. Anyone guilty of such an offence, whether or not they belong to our team, must be punished.
“We have complete confidence in the integrity of our squad members, who are staunch supporters of the fight against racism and have at all times shown an exemplary attitude in every match the team has played.
“The club cannot comment on incidents that arise between players during the course of the play, and always demands respect and responsibility from its players in their attitude towards opponents.
“We work hard, and will continue to work hard, to stamp all xenophobic behaviour out of the game, offering a loud and clear message of ‘NO TO RACISM’.”
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Ferdinand’s former club have also launched SEE RED this week, a campaign which aims to confront racism and discrimination in football to help rid it from the game.
The club have said: “In the ongoing fight for equality, Manchester United has launched SEE RED, a new campaign which aims to confront the scourge of racism and discrimination in the game.
“SEE RED builds on the work by the club under the umbrella of its long-standing All Red All Equal anti-discrimination programme.
“It features a thought-provoking video which challenges United fans to think – ‘Without diversity, who would we be? What would the club’s history books say?’”
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