RONNY Deila has claimed that Celtic will explore every possible avenue to overturn Aleksandar Tonev’s ban for racism if the winger’s Thursday appeal fails, because the case has the potential to “ruin the Bulgarian’s life”.
The Celtic manager, while condemning racism, reiterated his belief that the seven-game suspension handed to Tonev in October for racially abusing Aberdeen defender Shay Logan during a September meeting between the sides was unjustifiable because the judgement relied solely on balance of probabilities – even though this is the standard applied in Scotland’s civil courts.
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The only recourse available to Celtic following the appellate tribunal that will sit this week to consider the original determination made by the SFA’s independent judicial panel is the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.
“If there is nothing new in the Tonev case on Thursday, we will take it all the way,” Deila insisted.
“If you’re going to have this Tonev case as it is, with no more evidence, it’s going to be very hard to keep up this way of treating players.
“I’m worried that Tonev’s career will be tainted because of this. He’ll be forever known as a racist footballer.
“But it’s not even about the footballer, it’s about the person. I wouldn’t like that on me if it wasn’t true. It could ruin a human being’s life and I don’t like it. If there’s proof, we’ll accept it, but I believe Alex.
“I’m not a lawyer and I would speak to the club about where we take it. I can’t understand this case because it’s not fair when it’s word versus word.
“If it’s clearly proved to the public that Tonev is guilty, I would never excuse it. We really don’t like racism and if our player did a thing like that it would be unacceptable.
“We were part of the case, we were in there so we know what happened. They believed him [Logan] instead of Alex and, for me, that’s not fair. You need to prove it, you can’t judge people without proving it. It can’t just be your mind thinking it.”
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