close
Monday June 24, 2024

Atletico Madrid hit with two-match partial stand closure after racist abuse

By Reuters
May 02, 2024
Athletic Bilbaos Nico Williams celebrates scoring his teams first goal following alleged racist insults during the Spanish league football match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Athletic Club Bilbao at the Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on April 27, 2024. — AFP
Athletic Bilbao's Nico Williams celebrates scoring his team's first goal following alleged racist insults during the Spanish league football match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Athletic Club Bilbao at the Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on April 27, 2024. — AFP 

MADRID: Atletico Madrid have been ordered to partially close their south stand for two matches by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) after Athletic Bilbao player Nico Williams suffered racist abuse in Saturday’s LaLiga game.

Referee Juan Martinez Munuera stopped the match in the 36th minute as part of LaLiga’s protocol against racism after he heard racist abuse directed at the 21-year-old Spain international, who was born in Pamplona to Ghanaian parents.

Atletico, who did not immediately respond when contacted by Reuters for comment, have also been fined 20,000 euros ($21,360). They have 10 days to appeal. The RFEF said in a statement on Tuesday that the closed area in the stands must display a visible message condemning violent, racist, xenophobic and intolerant acts in football and supporting fair play. A few minutes after he was abused, Williams scored and ran in front of the south stand tapping his arm in reference to his skin colour.

After the match, which Atletico won 3-1, he told DAZN: “There are stupid people everywhere but nothing happens, we have to keep fighting so this changes little by little.”

The incident was the latest in a series of episodes that have fuelled the debate around racism in Spanish football. There have been 16 incidents of racist abuse against Real Madrid’s Brazil winger Vinicius Jr reported to Spanish prosecutors by LaLiga in the last two seasons.

Earlier this month, Spanish TV station Movistar Plus+ fired analyst German Burgos after Barcelona and Paris St Germain refused to give interviews to the network following a comment which was interpreted as racist about Barcelona’s Lamine Yamal.