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Sport

Bilbao's Williams pleased with legal probe into racist chanting

FILE PHOTO: Athletic Bilbao player Inaki Williams at Lezama training ground, near Bilbao, Spain, October 3, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent West/File Photo

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Athletic Bilbao forward Inaki Williams has welcomed the news that a Spanish prosecutor is investigating the racist taunting he was subjected to during a La Liga match at Espanyol in January as “a very important step”.

The Spanish prosecutor’s division for hate crimes in Barcelona said on Monday that it had opened an investigation into two Espanyol fans accused of the chanting.

The prosecutors described the monkey noises made by supporters as “disdainful cries against the player, with the clear intention of trying to humiliate and hurt his dignity due to racist motives”.

Williams, who denounced the chants back in January in a post-match interview, issued a video statement on his official Twitter account after news broke of the investigation.

“I just wanted to say that I’m very happy that the prosecutor has opened a lawsuit against the individuals who used racist insults to offend me,” said Williams, 26.

“I think this is a very important step, we live in a society that needs to make lots of changes and this is one of them. Regardless of the colour of our skin, race or ideology, we are all equal, and that’s why we need to respect each other.

“Most of all I’m very happy and I wanted to thank everyone for their messages of support.”

Born in Bilbao to parents from Ghana who met in a refugee camp, Williams has spent his entire career at Athletic Bilbao and was called up by Spain in 2016, making one substitute appearance against Bosnia & Herzegovina.

In 2015 he became the first Black player to score for the club, who only select players with ties to the Basque country.

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris

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