AYALA HITS BACK AT SIMAO SLURS

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ROBERTO FABIEN AYALA has hit back at calls for the Competitions Committee to sanction him, following the ill-tempered game between Valencia and Barcelona last Saturday.

The Valencia star is at the centre of a controversy, following an incident that took place between himself and Portuguese youngster Simao, where he was accused of stamping on the player.

The defender, however, is disappointed at the claims, saying that they were all born from the player himself, and were not seen by anyone else.

"All the accusations stem from the player," Ayala insisted. "As soon as I saw what had happened, I stopped the game and called for him to be attended to.

"Abelardo was a witness to this. We spoke with each other and, in the end, everything went well. If Simao is going to continue protesting, the best thing is to continue playing football and let the committee sort things out."

The defender is calm and trusts the committee will make the right decision in the end, but any possible sanction would result in the player missing out on the prestigious match against Real Madrid, the next opponents of Valencia.

The Argentine captain was also keen to point out that it was nothing more than an accident, and there was no malice on his part.

"It is true I am a tough player, but I never go in with bad intentions or the desire to hurt," he declared.  "If I was to report every knock that I took, there would be accusations against many attackers.

"It was an action which took place when my back was to Simao, and when not finding any support, I was suddenly on top of him, but I didn't do it deliberately. If they put the images in slow motion, evidently they will seem more spectacular."

When asked on whether he had spoken with the Barcelona winger recently, Ayala added: "Simao never went to hospital, he wasn't cut and he continued to play on. I don't have to speak with him, I already apologised on the pitch."

Ayala, although surprised by all the accusations mounted against him in the last few days, continues to train normally in preparation for the top-of-the-table clash against Real.

Ayala has also considered the possibility that perhaps there is a bit of gamesmanship involved, and that Barcelona are simply trying to reaffirm that Valencia are a tough proposition.

"Maybe they would like to say that, yes," he claimed.  "Valencia are an opponent who are going to fight and make you feel uncomfortable."