It was a night to remember for Iñaki Williams in Athletic’s Cup game against Tenerife. Just days after being racially abused by Espanyol lovers at RCDE Stadium, the striker scored two goals that helped lead the Lions to an eventual victory in a penalty shootout.
“The tribute from the stands was a really emotional moment,” Williams admitted after the match. “I only have words of thanks for the Tenerife fans and for everyone else that have sent me messages of support. Everything bad brings something great. This is how we will end racism.”
Williams continued to thank the fans for their support that he will never forget. The striker called on everyone to work together to put an end to racism in football.
“I wish to remember all of the love I received from the Tenerife fans. They were incredible. This is what you need, fans and good people. This will end racism. We must fight against racism because there are many people who suffer from it who are not seen. I will keep the Tenerife fans in my heart.”
“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 very same things now that she suffered from in the past. It was miserable.”
During the investigation, a total of 12 people were positively identified as having engaged in the racist insults directed at Williams. La Liga is considering a partial stadium closure consequently and Espanyol are also working with police to administer punishment to those involved which could include life threatening from the stadium.
“There must be tougher punishments to make people think twice and not shout insults at any individual be it black, Chinese, Moroccan, Colombian, or anything else,” said Williams firmly. “It does not bother me that a few fools try to mess with someone due to the color of their skin. It bothers me that there’s not any remedy. Fans should go to the field to promote the team and enjoy football.”
Turning the focus to the triumph over Tenerife, Williams shared that it was a really tough match. In the end, Athletic did what it took to get the victory and the players believe that they can finally compete for a place in the final.
“It was very complicated. We came knowing that it would be complicated and the red card meant that it would be a very long game, but we never gave up. We knew how to endure to win. Except for Iñigo’s shot that was saved everybody took incredible shots. We are confident that we can go, 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 is always telling me the importance that I should have for the group. Calling me a franchise player doesn’t add pressure. I’m aware of my importance at Athletic and I have to prove it on the field. I need to believe in myself more that I’m the one who will score goals. I am 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 attempt to score more goals.”
The euphoria of Tuesday night’s win won’t last long. Athletic must immediately turn their attention to Sunday’s league match which will see Getafe visit San Mamés.