Iñaki Williams “Playing Again Won’t Depend On What We Want”

Iñaki Williams can’t imagine playing football in the current situation (AC)

The hope is that football will return very soon, but it’s unlikely. With Spain expected to stay in lock down through May the chances of the La Liga season returning before the summer are bleak. In the meantime, players are using the time at home to work out to stay in the best shape possible while also trying keep a positive outlook on the current situation.

“I spend a lot of time exercising, watching TV, and being with my girlfriend,” Iñaki Williams told El Larguero during an interview on Cadena Ser. “I thought I was going to have a much worse time. My mother is bored so she makes video calls. We talk a lot.”

The striker also explained that the players are in regular communication while quarantined at home. “We stay updated and connected every day through a group chat,” said Williams. “I talk to my teammates, videos are sent, and I especially talk with Muniain, Unai (López), and Yeray. We are all connected and they are missed.”

Life is much different today than it was one month ago. In the past the streets of Bilbao were full of life but now people only leave their homes to go purchase essential items.

“I live in the center of Bilbao and it’s strange because there is no one on the street. Everything is desolate. On the walk to the supermarket it’s rare that nobody stops me but there are no people. It’s sad that the city is like this. People are respecting staying home which is important. It’s time to abide by the rules and if we all work together we will get out of this sooner.”

In the end, Williams is confident that the current situation is going to change the perspective of many people.

“We are going to value many things that we didn’t before.” (AC)

“This is going to teach us many things, we’re going to know what is essential in our lives. It’s hard because there are people who are dying and you have to explain that to your children. They can’t leave the house. I’m lucky that I have a fairly large apartment with a terrace and I can go outside. We are going to value many things that we didn’t before because of everything that is happening.”

Throughout the country everyone has been opening their windows each night at 8pm to applaud the healthcare workers. Williams said this tribute is fully deserve and that it’s an example to the younger generation of what really matters.

“We continue to go out at eight and applaud everyone working. I go out because I want to thank them and to set an example. This is an example to the little ones that we must support those who are risking their lives. We are at home and they have to see misery and people passing away. They deserve the applause at eight, nine, ten, and every hour.”

Players and fans may be dreaming of football returning quickly, but that’s not the priority for Williams at this point. Before considering playing again the striker says things must improve.

“What worries me most is the health of everyone. Playing again won’t depend on what we want, it will depend on this situation. The main thing is that there can’t be risk for anyone. Hopefully tomorrow we can say that we have overcome this but I still don’t plan on returning when there are still people dying and getting sick.”

“It would be absurd to compete again without having a small preseason.” (AC)

Even if the season does return it’s likely that fans won’t be allowed to attend games. If that is the case and in then best interest of public health Williams says he will accept it without complaint.

“First, the important thing is the health of the people. If they say that playing without the fans is going to be good for everyone’s health then you have to have common sense and respect it. We have to think about everyone. If it’s the only way then I would play without fans. Hopefully they can find a solution for the Cup final so that everyone can be there and enjoy it.”

Something of a preseason will also be needed if the season were to resume. Having spent so much time in quarantine, players will be at risk of injury if not given the time to properly get back into football shape.

“It’s true that we are used to playing every four or five days, but training at home is not the same as running on the field. I want to sprint again and to run like a gazelle. It would be absurd to think about competing again without having a small preseason. If we return to that rhythm of competition that we have before the break we will need some time or else there could be many injuries.”

Of course, the football stoppage will also have a significant financial impact on everyone. Some clubs have already moved to file for ERTE for government assistance while others are negotiating wage decreases with players.

“We are going to help in whatever way the club propose to us. Surely it will be very easy to reach an agreement. We are aware of the situation we are experiencing, but in the end the captains have the say and we are waiting.”

Williams would gladly accept a pay cut if needed by the club (AC)

Williams understands that he’s in a better situation than most. With that realization, the striker says that the players are prepared to help in any way they can with the realization that a wage decrease may be needed.

“This is affecting jobs, not only now, but also later in the future. Many people are running out of work and you have to be aware that we are all going through a difficult time. I have many friends who are now unemployed. Personally, I’m in a comfortable situation and it seems that it doesn’t affect me but it does because I see people who are having a bad time. We are willing to help.”

Part of the measures taken to hopefully finish the season included postponing the European Championship that was scheduled for this summer. Williams was in contention to make the squad and is committed to doing so next year. “I have that goal of playing in the European championship,” he said. “I have one more year to show that I can be on Luis Enrique’s list. I’m going to give everything I have to be able to be in the team.”

The immediate future of football is full of uncertainty. While there’s a chance that the season could resume even if it takes playing through August, it’s also possible that the current campaign is over. Patience and respect has been necessary throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and are now more important than ever before. Football will eventually return, but that doesn’t really matter right now.

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