Marcelo Bielsa has defended his decision to make goalkeeper Kiko Casilla Leeds’ captain for Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup defeat to Hull.
Casilla was banned for eight matches in February and fined £60,000 after being found guilty of racially abusing Charlton forward Jonathan Leko and Leeds fans have expressed their concerns over the decision on social media.
‘I interpreted the feeling of his team-mates,’ said Bielsa after Spaniard Casilla skippered the side in the absence of the injured Liam Cooper. ‘His team-mates think he deserved to be the captain and we have to listen to those messages.
‘The players see in their captain someone they feel can represent them. I respect the opinions of any person. After that opinions can be argued. Surely those who judge Kiko ignore a lot of the things his team-mates see in him?’
Bielsa, whose side slumped to a 9-8 penalty shootout defeat following a 1-1 draw, said that he could not ignore his players’ request because a section of fans did not agree with it.
‘You’re saying I should have contemplated over whether to pick Kiko as captain, either take the opinion of the fans or the players,’ he said.
‘I cannot deny that the captain not only represents his team-mates, but he also represents the club.
Casilla was alleged to have racially abused Leko during Leeds’ 1-0 defeat at The Valley in September last year.
The Football Association began an investigation the following month and their subsequent charge was found proven by an independent regulatory commission.