London (AFP) – Former Newcastle United midfielder Jonas Gutierrez has won his disability discrimination claim against his former club, it was announced on Thursday.
The Argentinian had alleged he was excluded from the Premier League side’s first team because of his diagnosis with testicular cancer in 2013.
Newcastle rejected the claim, saying the midfielder had simply been left out by several managers because they opted to pick other players.
Gutierrez, 32, brought an employment tribunal claim against north-east side Newcastle for disability discrimination, having accused the club of making sure he didn’t complete enough appearances to trigger a lucrative one-year contract extension worth up to £2 million ($2.83 million, 2.51 million euros).
The tribunal panel, which delivered its findings in a 64-page document on Thursday, said: “We concluded that the reason why the respondent (Newcastle) managed the claimant’s (Gutierrez’s) selection was because they no longer wanted him at the club because of his cancer.”
They added Newcastle “made a very rapid decision” after Gutierrez came back following treatment at the end of 2013, “that they no longer wanted him, because of his cancer”.
Gutierrez, currently with Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna, spent seven seasons playing for Newcastle after joining the club in 2008, and underwent an operation to remove a tumour in his left testicle in October 2013.
Then-manager Alan Pardew told the hearing in Birmingham, central England, last month that Gutierrez’s time with the club was coming to an end because he “didn’t really fit into the mould I wanted to make”.
However, Gutierrez said no such discussion took place and the tribunal agreed with him, calling the version of events given by Pardew, now the manager of Premier League rivals Crystal Palace, “inconsistent”.
The panel said: “This inconsistency to an extent undermined his (Pardew’s) credibility. The claimant we found to be credible.
“Ultimately, on the balance of probabilities and taking into account our assessment of the respective credibility of the claimant and Mr Pardew, we preferred the evidence of the claimant.”
A separate remedy hearing has now been scheduled to determine the extent of Gutierrez’s compensation.