Athletic Bilbao condemn racist abuse of Inaki Williams at Sporting Gijon

Athletic Bilbao has condemned racist abuse directed at their Spanish striker Inaki Williams during their La Liga opener at Sporting Gijon on Sunday.

The 22-year-old Williams, born in Bilbao to a Ghanaian father and Liberian mother, was targeted by a section of Sporting fans during Athletic's 2-1 defeat at El Molinon stadium.

Midway through the first half, referee Carlos Clos Gomez halted the game for one minute following those abusive chants aimed at Williams.

Athletic said on their website: "Worse than the result has been the fact that the referee has had to halt the game during the first half after insults and racist chants directed at Inaki Williams."

Williams is the first black player in the club's 118-year history and joined Athletic's youth system in 2012.

The referee wrote in his report: "At 22 minutes the game was stopped for one minute due to one stand of the stadium imitating monkey sounds directed at player number 11, Inaki Williams Arthur."

An announcement was made over the PA system to remind fans that any form of racism was not tolerated and Sporting players intervened to try to silence their fans before the game resumed with no further incidents. Athletic coach Ernesto Valverde was disappointed with the incident and said after the game as quoted in Marca:

"I consider it an isolated case and not something their whole fan section took part in."

The Spanish Football Federation's disciplinary code prohibits chants that "incite violence, racism, xenophobia and intolerance in sports."

Sporting were already punished for a similar incident in September 2008 and were fined €3,000 by the RFEF for racist and abusive chants directed at then-Getafe winger Joffre Guerron.

Williams scored Athletic's only goal of the game as a total of 25,340 spectators turned out to watch Sporting's league opener, which saw the home side claim its first win against the Bilbao outfit in 25 years.

Williams, who made his La Liga debut in December 2014, started in 21 league games for Athletic last season, scoring eight goals and setting up three more.

His solid performances in the 2015-16 campaign earned him his first cap with Spain in May in an international friendly defeat of Bosnia and Herzegovina.