Iñaki Williams “This Is How We Are Going To End Racism”
Iñaki Williams had a night to remember in Athletic’s Cup match against Tenerife. Just days after being racially abused by Espanyol fans at RCDE Stadium, the striker scored two goals which helped lead the Lions to an eventual victory in a penalty shootout. However, the biggest moment of the game came in the 9th minute when Tenerife fans rose to their feet in support of the striker with banners condemning racism.
“The tribute from the stands was a very emotional moment,” Williams admitted after the match. “I only have words of thanks for the Tenerife fans and for everyone else who have sent me messages of support. Everything bad brings something good. This is how we are going to end racism.”
Williams continued to thank the fans for their support which he will never forget. The striker called on everyone to work together to put an end to racism in football.
“I want to remember all the love I received from the Tenerife fans. They were incredible. This is what you need, fans and good people. This will end racism. They didn’t have to do it, but they felt identified with me and everyone encouraged me. We have to fight against racism because there are many people who suffer from it who aren’t seen. I will keep the Tenerife fans in my heart.”
The 25-year-old also revealed that his mother was deeply upset with the abuse directed at her son. “She had a hard time,” he said. “In the end, mothers are the ones who care the most about their children. I didn’t understand how I could suffer the same things today that she suffered from in the past. It was sad.”
During the investigation, a total of 12 individuals were positively identified as having participated in the racist insults directed at Williams. La Liga is considering a partial stadium closure as a result and Espanyol are also working with police to administer punishment to those involved which could include lifetime bans from the stadium.
“There have to be tougher punishments to make people think twice and not shout insults at any person be it black, Chinese, Moroccan, Colombian, or anything else,” said Williams firmly. “It doesn’t bother me that a few fools try to mess with someone because of the color of their skin. It bothers me more that there is no remedy. Fans should go to the field to encourage the team and enjoy football.”
Turning the attention to the win over Tenerife, Williams shared that it was a very difficult match. In the end, Athletic did what it took to get the victory and the players believe that they can eventually compete for a place in the final.
“It was very complicated. We came knowing that it would be complicated and then the red card meant that it would be a long game, but we never gave up. We knew how to suffer to win. I was nervous during the penalty shootout. Except for Iñigo’s shot which was saved everyone took incredible shots. We are confident that we can go far, this format is attractive.”
In closing, Williams was asked about the statements from manager Gaizka Garitano following the draw against Espanyol. The Mister called Williams a “franchise player” while also saying that the striker, as well as other forwards, need to score more goals.
“We have a very close relationship. He’s always telling me the importance that I should have for the team. Calling me a franchise player doesn’t add pressure. I’m aware of my important at Athletic and I have to prove it on the field. I have to believe in myself more that I am the one who will score goals. I’m the first one to demand that I go home with goals and I never get tired of working and trying to improve. When people ask me for more, I try to score more goals.”
The euphoria of Tuesday night’s win won’t last long. Athletic must quickly turn their attention to Sunday’s league match which will see Getafe visit San Mamés. Iñaki Williams will be expected to keep his place in the starting lineup with hopes of building on his incredible performance against Tenerife.