Sports Bassey

May 9, 2024

Atletico Madrid stadium closure over racist abuse reversed

Atletico Madrid stadium closure over racist abuse reversed

The Spanish Football Federation on Thursday accepted Atletico Madrid’s appeal against a partial stadium ban after racial abuse directed at Athletic Bilbao winger Nico Williams.

Atletico were initially ordered to partially close their stadium for two La Liga matches following monkey chants heard by Spain international Williams at Atletico’s Metropolitano stadium last month.

The Spanish Soccer Federation (RFEF) Appeals Committee, in its recent ruling, not only cancelled stadium ban but also nullified the fine imposed on Atletico by its Disciplinary Committee in connection with the aforementioned incident.

The federation pointed to Atletico’s “active cooperation” in their decision to lift the stadium ban and a 20,000 euros ($21,350) fine.

Williams heard the abuse when he went to take a corner. He subsequently scored, pointing to his arm in reference to his skin colour, in his side’s 3-1 defeat on April 28.

The LaLiga encounter between Atletico and Athletic on April 28 was halted in the 36th minute by referee Juan Martínez Munuera.

Munuera invoked LaLiga’s anti-racism protocol upon hearing abusive chants directed at Williams from the stands of the Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

“There weren’t many of them. There are stupid people everywhere… I hope this changes bit by bit” he said after the match.

Atletico identified the person responsible for the abuse from cameras in the stadium. He was handed over to the police when the game ended, and banned from the club.

The federation praised Atletico’s swift action in what they accepted was “an isolated incident”.

The Appeals Committee, in its assessment, acknowledged that Atlético had taken all feasible measures to prevent and address the incident.

It said, “The club’s active collaboration, the identification of the person responsible and the fact that it was an isolated incident, carried out by a single person, allows us to affirm that the maximum possible diligence was taken by the club. 

“The attribution of responsibility could only arise from an objective liability that is not what is provided for in the regulations and is not admissible in the sanctioning area,” it added.

Spanish football has suffered a spate of racist incidents in recent years, many of which have been aimed at Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior.

The Brazil international earned global support after facing off with a fan who was abusing him last year at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium, which also faced subsequent partial closure.