As reported by our colleagues at France Football yesterday, Lyon attacking midfielder Mathieu Valbuena has been caught up in a new scandal in what is turning out to be a horrid season for the French international.
Last Friday (22nd April), the Lyon players landed in Toulouse towards the end of the afternoon at the Toulouse-Blagnac airport. At the airport, the Lyon players were greeted by a small number of individuals, with a mixture of motivations for being there.
Some were there as fans to cheer them on, others were there to simply get autographs. One man in particular however, an individual who has only identified himself to the media as Youssef, was there to give the Lyon players some lighthearted banter.
This 38 year old father of the three is a former bus driver who has been forced to deal with a severe disability due to intracranial hypertension that he is suffering from.
As the Lyon players came through Hall A, close to where the Lyon team bus was parked, Youssef takes out his smartphone and begins to film the players, with his commentary alongside the filming forcing a smile on certain of the Lyon players’ faces, notably Rachid Ghezzal.
He was providing a commentary with the footage he is filming for his 12 year old son who stayed at home and whom Youssef planned on showing the video to. When certain Lyon players went past Youssef, he would pull a couple of “funny” lines meant as light-hearted banter.
For Lacazette, Youssef said the following: “Since he got a wage hike, he has stopped scoring.”
Lacazette did not react. Then came Valbuena, and if only he had decided to act as Lacazette did.
As Valby walks past Youssef, with his headphones on but with one ear free from his headset, not listening to music, he hears the latter individual say the following: “You see, here is the person whose fault it is that Karim Benzema will not be playing at the Euros.”
The French international turns around, snatches Youssef’s phone before throwing it on the ground and breaking it.
Youssef has reacted to the incident:
“Certainly I was inappropriate with what I might have said to him and I spoke a bit loudly, but Valbuena lost his head. He did not have to behave like that, he is a public figure. He was as angry as a pitfall, he went to hit me, I am someone who is fragile (owing to his disability) and even smaller than he is, even if it is not obvious that I am handicapped.”
“He had to be stopped and restrained by the security guy and some players. He has traumatised me. Since the incident, I cannot sleep. My doctor has upped my dose of antidepressants that I was already taking and he has added five days to my Total Incapacity to Work order on my medical certificate.”
Although Youssef was able to rebuild his phone and recover the video of the incident, he assures the media that the device, that he bought for 562 Euros, no longer works. Since the incident, he has been forced to use his son’s mobile phone.
Youssef also revealed that on the day of the match he went to the hotel where the Lyon players were staying to ask for an apology and a financial reimbursement for his broken phone, without success.
On Saturday afternoon, Youssef went back to the airport to file a report with Air and Frontier Police.
Youssef then told police the following:
“He (Valbuena) lost his head and came for me. He came towards me with his hand raised as if he was going to hit me whilst asking what I was doing. He was very aggressive, he brought his head up to mine, he snapped my phone from my hands. He wanted to give to someone but nobody took it so he threw it as far as possible. Since then I have a black screen on my phone, I can no longer use it.”
Youssef then went on to claim that Valbuena also verbally abused him:
“He insulted me by saying “son of a bitch, fuck your mother,” his colleagues rushed towards him in order to prevent any violence on his part. I did not react, I just did not understand. I was not expecting that… If he had just approached me and said that this was no good of me, I would have deleted the video. I did not expect such violence, I was shocked, I was scared.”
“A guard asked me to get out of the way as Valbuena looked for a fight, he insulted me as if I was some sort of scum.”
Youssef told FF that he contacted the club on Monday to explain what had happened. Their response to him was that they would call him back. He has yet to hear from them again. The local police has CCTV footage of the incident, and they have been added to the case.
Youssef has decided to press charges against Mathieu Valbuena and will meet his lawyer on Friday to see what action to take next.
When FF contacted Lyon, they claimed that they were surprised by the news, especially because Mathieu Valbuena has always had “exemplary behaviour” and OL claimed that they had not been informed of the incident.
After verifying the claims, Lyon admitted that Valbuena “had thrown the phone and that a security guard had to step in,” but that Youssef had showcased “a misplaced and disrespectful attitude”.
We’ll give Youssef the last word on this one, as he explained to FF what he wants to happen next:
“I want at least an apology from Valbuena and that I am reimbursed for my mobile phone. This situation dominates my thoughts day and night.”