Champions League: Shock as Valencia players stage boycott ahead of Chelsea tie

By Robert Abong'o: Tuesday, September 17th 2019 at 11:30 GMT +3 | Sports
New Valencia manager Albert Celades [Courtesy]

New Valencia manager Albert Celades on Monday, September 16 was left to take press-conference duties alone after a player boycott.

Valencia face Chelsea tonight in the UEFA Champions League at Stamford Bridge.

Reports from several news outlets in Europe suggest the boycott could have emanated following the dismissal of Marcelino Garcia.

Marcelino was sacked on Wednesday last week following reports of a huge disagreement between him and the club’s owner Peter Lim.

Marcelino was sacked after a poor start to the season [Courtesy]

He remained adamant that his sacking was due to the success Valencia had during his tenure, where he guided the club to back-to-back top four finishes in La Liga and a win against FC Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey final last year.

"I am absolutely sure that the trigger for this situation was the Copa del Rey. During the season, we received direct and indirect messages that we had to discount it [the Copa]. The fans wanted to fight for it and the players too, and they had the conviction to win it. The coaching staff wanted to fight and win the Copa. They didn't tell me why they didn't want the Copa, only that it was a minor tournament and that I could be putting the main goal [Champions League qualification] at risk,” said a disappointed Marcelino.

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He added that he was never applauded for his Copa del Rey success.

"We did not receive congratulations in Seville [after the Copa final] from the owner [Lim]. When I went to Singapore [for a meeting with Lim and club president Anil Murthy], I was congratulated for qualifying for the Champions League, not for winning the Copa," he explained.

Now, Valencia players could face disciplinary action from UEFA for the boycott.

Here’s what Celades had to say alone at the press conference:

“The spirit is very good. [Tuesday] is the start of the best club competition in Europe and that is ample motivation for the players to give their best. They want to play, taste the atmosphere and be in the starting XI. No one wants to miss out and that, for me, is the most important thing,"

He added there is nothing he can do about the boycott.

"Obviously it's not an ideal situation but it's the players' decision, really. I don't have much more to say about that. There isn't anything I can do about it. I speak to the players every day. They took this decision but there is always dialogue. The reaction I've had has been very good and I'm sure it will continue to improve…”

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