Nico Williams racially abused by fans as his Athletic loses at Atletico in fight for CL spot

Updated Apr. 27, 2024 6:05 p.m. ET

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Another incident of racism in Spanish soccer marred Atletico Madrid's 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

Spain forward Nico Williams said he was targeted by “monkey” shouts while he took a corner kick in the first half at Metropolitano Stadium. When he later scored Athletic's goal, he appeared to respond to the insults by running past the stands and tapping his forearm in reference to his skin color.

“I heard the monkey sounds, but it is always the same two or three people. We have to keep working on this. I hope one day it will stop,” the 21-year-old Nico said.

His older brother Iñaki Willliams, who has also endured racist insults in his career, broadened his criticism beyond those who insulted his brother to include the fans who jeered and booed Nico after he responded to the incident.


“They jeered him every time he touched the ball," Iñaki said. “I can’t understand that. They should jeer the aggressors, not the victim.”

Atletico captain Koke Resurrección condemned the incident, saying he and his teammates “were with Nico.”

“I send Nico all my support, along with my teammates and the club. There is no place in soccer for what happened,” Koke said. “These people must be identified and not allowed in the stadium.”

The Spanish league has been unable to stop repeated acts of verbal racist attacks against players, with Real Madrid forward Vinícius Júnior being consistently targeted.

The first trial against a fan accused of racial abuse in Spanish professional soccer is waiting to be scheduled. It will judge the racist insults Iñaki Williams received from an Espanyol supporter in a match in 2020.


Atletico, in fourth place, opened a six-point gap ahead of Athletic in fifth with five games remaining. The top four finishers in La Liga will go to the Champions League next season.

Midfielder Rodrigo de Paul put Atletico ahead in the 15th when his long shot took a deflection off a defender and dipped over Spain goalkeeper Unai Simón.

Nico leveled just before halftime when Atletico star Antoine Griezmann made a poor pass that was picked off by Iñaki. The forward played Gorka Guruzeta clear to square the ball for Nico to score.

Ángel Correa restored Atletico's lead in the 52nd after he recovered the ball in midfield then slipped forward where he controlled a long ball from Koke before beating Simón.

The game was beyond doubt in the 80th when a shot by Samuel Lino hit the post and bounced in off Simón.

Athletic beat Atletico twice in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey en route to winning the cup.


Girona provisionally moved into second place by winning at Las Palmas 2-0 in the Canary Islands.

Barcelona can move back into second place with a win over Valencia on Monday.

Defender David López scored in the 26th and Artem Dovbyk converted a penalty in the 57th to take his league-leading tally to 19 goals.

Girona goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga saved a penalty by Sandro Ramírez with the score still 0-0.


Mason Greenwood scored twice and set up a third to lead Getafe to a 3-1 win at last-placed Almeria.

The player on loan from Manchester United scored into an empty net after Ilaix Moriba stole the ball from a defender and drew goalkeeper Luis Maximiano off the line. Greenwood got a brace when he tapped in a rebound of a Moriba shot blocked by Maximiano. Greenwood then passed for Jaime Mata to score Getafe’s third.


Giuliano Simeone, the son of Atletico coach Diego Simeone, scored his first goal since joining Alaves to help it beat Celta Vigo 3-0.

Giuliano joined Alaves on loan from Atletico last summer. He broke his leg in the preseason and returned to playing in January.


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