Bielsa unsure of Kiko Casilla’s long-term Leeds future after ban

Kiko Casilla

Marcelo Bielsa could not offer any guarantees on Kiko Casilla’s long-term future at Leeds after the goalkeeper was handed an eight-match suspension for racially abusing an opponent.

Casilla, 33, was given an eight-match ban on Friday after being found to have used racist language towards Charlton forward Jonathan Leko during a Sky Bet Championship match on September 28.

The Leeds star had denied the charge but an independent regulatory commission found a breach of Rule E3(2) proven and the FA has delivered a full explanation as to how it reached its conclusion.

The Spaniard, who has also been fined £60,000 and ordered to attend face-to-face education, has said he was “truly sad and devastated” at being accused of racial abuse.

However, with the keeper now only available for Leeds’ last three matches of the season – plus the end of season play-offs should they finish lower than second – Bielsa was uncertain what the future would be for the keeper.

“I don’t know the club position,” he said when asked if Leeds had taken any action against him, while speaking during a press conference to preview Saturday’s derby clash with Huddersfield Town.

Asked if Leeds believed what Casilla told the FA hearing and that he hadn’t heard the ‘N’ word, Bielsa offered a cagey reply.

“The people who have to judge Kiko have already done it,” he said. “The people who represent Leeds, the club, what we do is accept the authorities’ decisions.

“Our authorities have the right to judge what they judge. When one club is part of one competition the club knows that the authorities have the right to judge like they did here or in another situation when you accept the regulations, so you have to accept the decisions.”

Bielsa, however, did admit he had sympathy for Leko, saying no-one deserves to be abused.

“Any person who suffers and receives abuse, this person deserves the solidarity, the support of everybody,” he answered.

While Leko has spoken out to explain how difficult he has found the whole ordeal, teenage goalkeeper Illan Meslier looks set to see out the next seven games at least as in the Leeds goal.

Asked if Casilla was still training with Leeds, Bielsa added: “Yes, he’s still with the group.”

Asked if Leeds have a duty of care to look after Casilla, Bielsa continued: “I have already responded to this question. One person that is sanctioned for racism, we know that this is going to have an impact in his spirit, how he is.

“And of course any of us can be in a bad personal moment, for any reason. And we try to act in a human way.

“What we should avoid when we express ourselves, and for this reason I try to take care of the words I am using, because I don’t want people to interpret supporting Kiko at this moment means we are in favour of racists.

“For this reason I say again any person that sufferers racist abuse deserves the support of all of us. But if any person of us is suffering we act in the human sense.”

Leeds, meanwhile, will reportedly face strong competition for a striker they have been keeping tabs on, according to Thursday’s Euro Paper Talk.