TwoofSpain’sleadinganti-racismorganisationshavecalledonsportingauthoritiestoadopteffectivemeasurestoaddressracisminSpanishfootballafterthe AthleticdeBilbao SpanishstrikerIñakiWilliamswassubjectedtoracistabuseduringtheLaLigaopenerinGijón onSunday21August.
The 22-year-old, born in Bilbao to a Ghanaian father and Liberian mother, was targeted by a section of Sporting de Gijón fans during Athletic’s 2-1 defeat at El Moline stadium.
The referee Carlos Cos halted the game for one minute following the discriminatory chants and an announcement was made over the PA system to stop the abuse. Sporting de Gijón players also intervened to try to silence their fans.
The incident was registered on the match report, which read: “At minute 22 the game was stopped, for one minute, because supporters in one of the stadium’s stands performed monkey noises directed at the player number 11, Iñaki Williams Arthur.”
In reaction to the incident SOS Racismo and Fare member Movimiento Contra La Intolerancia said to be worried with the recurrence of incidents of racism in Spanish football.
Mikel Mazkiaran, SOS Racismo spokesman, stressed that authorities cannot banalise such demonstrations, while Movimiento President Esteban Ibarra explained: “This incident highlights the presence of ultra racist groups in football stadiums, a problem that is yet to be eradicated. These practices are recurrent in Spanish football”.
Ibarra also highlighted the referee’s decision, saying he acted correctly and in accordance with the disciplinary laws of football and that his actions should be seen as an example to others.
In Gijón, the labour party councilman José Ramón García condemned the incident, while the municipal group Xixón Sí Puede said they will promote an institutional declaration against the racist chants.
Athletic de Bilbao also condemned the incident. The team’s coach Ernesto Valverde was disappointed with the abuse but considered it “an isolated case”.
On their website Sporting de Gijón wrote a message condemning all forms of discrimination, xenophobia and violence in sport accompanied by a video in which players of the club send a message against racism.
The racist chants against Iñaki Williams add to a number of high-profile discriminatory demonstrations in Spanish football, including homophobic chants against Ronaldo and Dani Alves’ banana incident. In 2008, Sporting Sporting de Gijón was fined €3000 over fans’ racism directed at Getafe winger Joffre Guerrón.