The verdict is in: Argentine midfielder and current Deportivo de La Coruña man Jonás Gutiérrez has won a disability discrimination case against his former club Newcastle United.
The 32-year-old was suing Newcastle over the way he was treated following his testicular cancer diagnosis in October 2013, arguing that he was unfairly dropped from the team and thus unable to receive the appearance-based bonus he rightfully deserved (a clause in his contract required him to play in 80 games between 2011 and 2015).
According to the employment tribunal that ruled in his favor, Gutiérrez “had maintained his place in the starting line-up without difficulty for five years,” unmistakable evidence to the fact that he was (and had been) a part of the club’s plans until the point of his absence. This was a guy who stuck with the Toon Army through relegation. He embodied their honest, fighting spirit. Come on now!
“Just over two weeks after the claimant returned to the club in November 2013 following his diagnosis and treatment, and at a point when he was match fit and returning to action, he was told that he no longer featured in the club’s future plans,” the ruling states. “We conclude that the decision to drop the claimant was because of the claimant’s cancer.”
The Magpies, for their part, are reportedly “dismayed” by the ruling. But there’s definite truth behind it; don’t you remember that bruising Newcastle midfield of a few years back? Yep – Gutiérrez featured 177 times in those days, and was a regular at St. James’ Park. Pretty tough to justify his absence upon diagnosis.
Gutiérrez is now taking part in La Liga play for Deportivo, where he came on as a substitute over the weekend in a 1-1 away draw against Sevilla. But once a Geordie, always a Geordie.