Spanish league president condemns racism, fan street clashes

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              Athletic Bilbao's Inaki Williams, left, and Real Madrid's Luka Modric fight for the ball during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday Dec. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul White)
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Spanish football was marred by a player being racially abused during a league game on Saturday, along with street clashes between rival fans outside stadiums before two matches.

The league president said the incidents had done “serious damage to Spanish football.”

Athletic Bilbao forward Iñaki Williams said that he was a victim of racial abuse from fans while playing at Espanyol in the city of Barcelona.

“I suffered racist insults, something that no one wants to hear and has no place here,” Williams said after the 1-1 draw.

Williams, who is black, played 82 minutes of the match before being substituted.

TV broadcaster Movistar showed Williams confronting a section of Espanyol fans who were taunting him with monkey chants while a Bilbao teammate was taking a corner kick.

“People should come to enjoy themselves, to help their team. This is a sport about friendship,” Williams said.

Espanyol condemned the incident and said it is working to identify the fans involved.

“Espanyol strongly condemns any expressions of racism in a football stadium,” the club said. “The club is investigating the racist incident produced by a few fans against Iñaki Williams.”

Williams did not say if he had reported the incident to the referee, whose report did not mention the racist chants.

Ultra fan groups clashed in the street before the match at Espanyol on Saturday and also outside Valencia’s stadium before a game against Barcelona.

Video on social media showed groups of men tossing tables from bars and exchanging blows during both incidents.

“Today we have taken a step back in the work that we began years ago,” Spanish league president Javier Tebas tweeted. “The violent incidents in Barcelona and Valencia (and) the racist insults against Iñaki Williams do serious damage to Spanish football. La Liga assumes responsibility and will look along with the clubs to find what we did wrong.”

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