Why Touré’s Criticism of Former Manager Could Kick Off Defamation Claim

It has been widely reported that ex Manchester City and Barcelona footballer, Yaya Touré, has raised concerns relating to his former manager, Pep Guardiola.

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Why Touré’s Criticism of Former Manager Could Kick Off Defamation Claim

It is understand that Touré has commented that “when we realise he [Guardiola] often has problems with Africans wherever he goes, I ask myself questions” “he was cruel to me. I came to wonder if it was not because of my colour”.

Taking aside potential complications in respect of the place of publication and jurisdiction, Guardiola may understandably be considering his options in response to Toure’s comments.

So, does this remark potentially stray into defamation territory?

For a defamation claim to be successful there must have been a defamatory statement – i.e. one that lowers the claimant in the estimation of reasonable people generally. Crucially, for a statement to be defamatory it must have ‘caused or be likely to cause serious harm to the individual’. Given the seriousness of the allegations, Touré’s comments are likely to have caused – or be likely to cause – serious harm.

Should Guardiola choose to take action, Touré could rely on an absolute defence to a defamation claim – by saying that the statement made is true. It is worth noting however, that the burden of proof in respect of a truth defence lies with the defendant, who must show that the statement is true.

It is also possible that Touré could rely on the “honest opinion” defence, i.e., that his comments were a statement of opinion. If this was the case, Touré would need to show that his comments indicated the basis of an opinion – and that an honest person would have held that opinion when taking into account any facts that existed at the time of making the comments.

Finally, there is a possibility that Touré could rely on a public interest defence, on the basis that the statements were a matter of public interest and he believed that his comments were in the public interest.

Guardiola may choose to either commence legal proceedings in relation to Touré comments or could decide that formal action could further escalate the high-profile story – an important factor to consider in all potential defamation claims, even if the individuals or companies involved are not as well known as Guardiola and Touré.

This emphasises the need to take a commercial approach as well as considering the legal position.

When considering how best to respond to potentially defamatory comments, always take expert advice from a solicitor who is experienced in defamation law and dispute resolution and can therefore guide you on the most appropriate course of action, including considering a commercial approach as well as potential legal position.

For more information, contact Andrew Broadbent on 0114 252 1416 or andrew.broadbent@keebles.com

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