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Athletic Bilbao’s Nico Williams tried to get referee to stop play after he was racially abused during match in Spain


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Spanish football has been marred by another racist incident, with “monkey sounds” directed at a black player.

Nico Williams was playing for his La Liga club Athletic Bilbao against hosts Atletico Madrid on Saturday but was targeted as he took a corner kick in the first half of the game.

“I have gone to take a corner and I have heard monkey sounds,” the winger told broadcaster DAZN after Saturday’s match.

“There are stupid people everywhere but nothing happens, we have to keep working.

“I hope this changes little by little because in the end we are fighting internally and externally against this.”

The winger tried to get the referee to stop play and Atletico players Antoine Griezmann and Jose Maria Gimenez appeared to be urging the home fans to stop the chanting.

When Williams scored a goal later in the game, bringing the scores level just before halftime, he ran in front of the stands and tapped his arm in reference to his skin colour.

Talking about his goal celebration, he said: “It comes with a bit of anger – it is not normal that they still insult you because of your skin tone.”

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Madrid won the match 3-1 but Atletico captain Koke Resurreccion criticised fans who had abused his rival, saying: “These things shouldn’t happen in soccer.”

Read more:
Vinicius Jr breaks down in tears over racist abuse endured in Spain
Footballers facing racism fear being abused, doubted and denounced in Spain
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Atletico said on social media that the club was “against any act of racism or hatred”.

A La Liga statement said: “There’s no place for racist or hateful behaviour in sport.

“La Liga vehemently condemns any racist acts and will continue working to eradicate this inexcusable behaviour from our sport.”

The Spanish football league has struggled to deter acts of racism against players.

A date has yet to be set for the first trial against a fan accused of racial abuse – that case relates to Nico’s brother Inaki Williams, who was insulted by an Espanyol supporter in a match in 2020.

Vinicius Junior breaks down to cry during his press conference during the training session of Brazil Team prior the friendly match against Spain at Ciudad Deportiva Real Madrid on March 25, 2024, in Valdebebas, Madrid, Spain. AFP7 25/03/2024 (Europa Press via AP)
Vinicius Jr. Pic: AP

In May last year, Real Madrid filed a hate crime complaint with Spanish prosecutors after one of its players Vinicius Jr was racially abused during a game against Valencia.

Last season, La Liga reported 10 racial abuse incidents to prosecutors relating to the 23-year-old and, after one, former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand offered support on social media.

Ferdinand, an anti-racism campaigner, criticised authorities for not doing enough to stamp out racism from fans, saying: “People need to stand together and demand more from the authorities that run our game.”

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