Footballer wins discrimination case against Newcastle United
Footballer Jonas Gutierrez was ditched by Newcastle United because he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, an employment tribunal has found.
The midfielder, 32, accused the club of freezing him out of the first team after he fell ill in 2013.
He said the management ensured he failed to make enough appearances on the pitch to trigger a lucrative one-year contract extension worth up to £2 million.
The Argentine said billionaire owner Mike Ashley put pressure on managers to drop him because they considered his health a “liability” after he was diagnosed.
Former manager Alan Pardew claimed Gutierrez wasn’t part of his future plans two years before he got cancer and the decision not to renew his contract was a purely “footballing decision.”
But a tribunal said he was less favourably treated by the relegation-threatened club as a result of his disability.
The tribunal also found Newcastle had not made “reasonable adjustments due to his disability”.
However, the three-person panel rejected claims he was forced out on loan to Norwich, with experts finding the move was consensual.
Allegations of harassment – that Gutierrez was forced to train with the club’s under 21s – were also unsuccessful.
Gutierrez called the ruling a “relief” but says he “can’t understand” the St James’ Park club’s treatment of him.
“I am so frustrated about that period,” the Argentine told BBC Sportshour.
He added that he wants his case to set a precedent for employees, not just footballers, who face similar battles.
“For me, it was the worst period in my life,” he added. “I didn’t deserve that type of treatment.
“It’s important to leave a precedent for the future. No-one can go through this again – not footballers or any employees, that is more important.
“It made me learn a lot about life. Now we’re here I’m really happy about what I’ve been through. To be alive and be healthy is more important for me.”
In a statement, Newcastle said: “We recognise that the task facing the tribunal was a difficult one, but we are dismayed by its decision. We will now take time to consider the judgment in full and consult with our legal team to understand the options available to us.”
A two-day remedy hearing to decide on the size of the compensation will be held soon.