Enemy of the spotlights, usually sensible and prudent like no other, José Luis Gayà has jumped in recent hours as if propelled by a spring after feeling “seriously harmed” by the Administrative Court of Sport (TAD), which decided on Thursday to maintain the sanction of four games that the Competition Committee imposed on him in May for some statements about the arbitration of Melero López after Valencia-Osasuna on matchday 32 of LaLiga.
The first captain of Mestalla will miss the first four days of the League and will be absent in the duels against Girona, Athletic, Atlético de Madrid and Getafe. “I don’t understand what has happened. They have taken 42 days to answer when they have met seven times to deal with different issues and until the last minute they have not decided. The coach could have prepared the start of the League in another way. I have prepared myself to be able to play. We thought they were going to remove my sanction. In the absence of a day for the start, this cannot be communicated. It doesn’t enter my head”, complains the one from Pedreguer, who points out that this decision “conditions” the league start of Gattuso’s team, which on Sunday hosts Girona at Mestalla. Another youth squad, Jesús Vázquez, will replace the captain.
On April 16, after a Valencia-Osasuna match in Mestalla, in the post-match interview carried out by the television that has the rights to the competition, Gayà referred to the refereeing performance of Melero López, who did not point out a possible penalty on Bryan Gil. “It is the tonic that we have this season. They have to warn him of a very clear penalty. The referee has seen it and has not wanted to whistle. We will fight against everything and we will move on, ”said the Valencia captain, who made clear his and the group’s discomfort. “It’s business as usual. The referee, at the break, told us that if he had called the penalty on Bryan, it would have been removed from the VAR because there was no contact. And you have to swallow it. We can’t say anything either because they give you a yellow card like me at the end of the game without saying anything. It is what it is, they do what they want. The match ended with a 1-2 loss for Bordalás.
Those statements caused the Integrity Committee of the Spanish Federation to open a file and propose that the captain of the Mestalla team be sanctioned with four games, something that the Competition Committee assumed and the Appeals Committee ratified. Finally, the TAD knocked down the club’s appeal to obtain the injunction. In his response to Valencia, Competition argued at the time that Gayà, with his statements, assured that “the referee deliberately stopped fulfilling one of his functions”, something that in his opinion would not be “a legitimate criticism” nor of the “expression of a disagreement”, which could be protected by freedom of expression. In this way, he established that these words could be “attacking the integrity of the arbitration group by questioning its impartiality.”
Beyond the words of Gayà, who had already vented on Twitter on Thursday, Valencia staged a powerful club image this Friday in the Paterna press room. Flanked by Gennaro Gattuso, his coach; by Carlos Soler, Jaume Doménech and Gabriel Paulista, the rest of the captains of the first team, and by the general director of the club, Sean Bai, José Luis Gayà, first captain of Valencia CF, commented that he felt “sad and disappointed” before a sanction “disproportionate for not saying anything”. And he added: “I am not afraid of retaliation for this press conference, but I have to defend myself. I’m not going to name names, but other colleagues said worse things than mine and nothing has happened to them. We all have to be treated in the same way and it has not happened that way. I would like someone to explain it to me.”
Before Gayà took the floor Sean Bai, who denounced that the punishment to Pedreguer’s side is a sanction “that is communicated late, completely unfair, and that generates a dangerous precedent, it is a serious damage to the club and to our captain and a clear example of comparative tort”. It hurts Gayà that his punishment separates him from Luis Enrique’s next call and possibly from his presence at the Qatar World Cup. “To be in the World Cup is a handicap not being able to start playing, but you already know me and I’m going to fight for my dreams. In these four weeks I will work even more. I don’t rule out going to the World Cup; I’m going to give it my all”, said the left-back, who answered that he hadn’t been called by coach Luis Enrique to encourage him.
The Valencia player clarified that he did not regret his words and that “he sleeps peacefully” because “in nine years as a professional he has never disrespected any referee”. “I do not regret. They may think that the forms were not the best, I can understand that, but I am wearing the captain’s armband and they have to understand that I have to go out and defend the team. I sleep peacefully, I have never disrespected any referee, that’s why this hurts me more”.
After his “disproportionate” sanction, the Valencia international anticipates more for this course. “I don’t know what’s going to happen this year when people come out to talk because they’re going to penalize a lot of players at this rate.” Thus, pending the decision to renew it, Gayà limited himself to qualifying that “this press conference is to talk about something else, but you all know what I want and the tune is good”.
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