La Liga wants Espanyol partial stadium closure for Inaki Williams incident

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January 28, 2020
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    Inaki Williams

    Inaki Williams made his senior debut for Atheltic Bilbao in 2014

    La Liga wants the Spanish Football Association to punish Espanyol with a partial stadium closure after Athletic Bilbao forward Inaki Williams said he was racially abused at their ground.

    After the 1-1 draw on Saturday, Williams, 25, said: “No black player or any player ever wants to hear that.”

    La Liga is attempting to identify the fans involved and bring criminal charges of hate crimes against them.

    The Spanish FA is scheduled to discuss the issue at a meeting on Wednesday.

    La Liga is also working on plans to allow players to report abusive chants to a referee, who can then take action.

    Espanyol said they were investigating “incidents of a racist nature uttered by a few against Inaki Williams”.

    In a statement, the Barcelona-based club said: “Espanyol strongly and explicitly condemns any sign of racism on soccer fields.”

    It has been reported that Williams told Athletic captain Iker Muniain about the abuse, who then informed referee Jose Sanchez Martinez.

    “No black player or any player ever wants to hear that,” Williams told the Athletic Bilbao website after the game.

    “It’s completely out of order, people should go to matches to enjoy themselves, to support their team; football is a team sport and should be played in a friendly atmosphere.

    “It’s a sad day because of these incidents which have no place in football.”

    The front page of Spanish sports newspaper Marca on Sunday carried the headline 'Enough of racism'

    The front page of Spanish sports newspaper Marca on Sunday carried the headline ‘Enough of racism’

    In a separate incident to that involving Williams on Saturday, there were violent clashes outside the Mestalla Stadium before Valencia’s win over Barcelona.

    La Liga said in a statement it would “study ticket sales and possible changes of how tickets are sold, especially online” as part of new measures to combat racism and violence at games.

    It added: “La Liga wishes to express its rejection and profound concern with respect to the incidents that occurred, acknowledging that measures put in place several years ago must be improved.

    “Although there has been a decline of insults, incidents and violent attitudes in and outside football stadiums, Saturday’s events mean those measures are no longer sufficient.”

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    January 28, 2020
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