Bilbao striker Williams reports racist abuse during Espanyol draw

Williams saddened by abuse. (AFP pic)

VALENCIA: Athletic Bilbao striker Inaki Williams said he was the victim of racist abuse on Saturday during his team’s 1-1 draw away to Espanyol in La Liga.

“I’m a little sad because of the draw but especially because I have suffered racist insults,” Williams told the official club website after the game.

“It’s something that no black player or player of any race wants to hear. It’s something totally out of place.”

“People have to come to the stadium to enjoy the game, to cheer on their team, to enjoy football. It’s a game of friendship, of the team,” added the forward.

“The truth is that it has been a sad day because of what I am telling you, because these events that are totally out of place do not have to happen,” he said.

Inaki wrote later on social media: “It is very sad that today we continue to experience racism in football. We have to end it. Thank you for your support. #Nomocracies #Semiostracism.”

Athletic Bilbao offered their backing for the 25-year-old. “All our support to @Williams45,” the club wrote in a message on Twitter.

“Before anything, zero tolerance for racism.”

La Liga and the Spanish Football Federation are yet to comment but La Liga president Javier Tebas said it had been a dark day for the sport after violence also broke out between fans of Barcelona and Valencia before their fixture at Mestalla.

“Today we have taken a step back in the work that we started years ago,” Tebas wrote on Twitter.

“The violent incidents between fans of Barcelona and Valencia, the racist insults made at Inaki Williams – these things are doing a lot of damage to Spanish football.

“La Liga takes responsibility. We will look at the clubs where there has been wrongdoing.”

Referee Jose Sanchez made no mention of racism in his official report of the match between Espanyol and Bilbao.

The game also continued, unlike in December, when a Spanish second division fixture between Rayo Vallecano and Albacete was suspended with the agreement of the two clubs and La Liga.

Some Rayo supporters had chanted “Zozulya is a Nazi” in the first half against Albacete’s Ukrainian striker Roman Zozulya, who had previously played for Rayo.