Alberto Uribe-Echevarría “No One Contacted Me Before Dismissing Berizzo Because They Didn’t Have To”
After weeks of hearing fans call for a managerial change, Athletic Club finally dismissed Eduardo Berizzo on Tuesday. The decision had to be made with the Lions firmly planted in the relegation zone, but it wasn’t easy with Presidential elections set to take place in just a few weeks. When Presidential candidate Alberto Uribe-Echevarría was asked by Onda Vasca whether or not he was told that the club would be making he change, he said that he was not informed and that the Management Committee had no obligation to share that information with him either.
“No one contacted me before dismissing Berizzo, not unless I have a class or message that I haven’t seen yet, because I have hundreds. But I don’t believe they did because they would have continued trying if they couldn’t reach me. In the statues there is a paragraph that speaks of the powers of the Management Committee allowing them to act when necessary to defend the interests of the club. I think this falls within reason and they had no obligation to contact the candidates.”
Uribe-Echevarría went on to praise Josu Urrutia, whom he served under for seven and a half years as the club’s Accountant, for making the decision to replace Eduardo Berizzo. He said that the former President has always put the Socios and fans first above all else and that he will seek to do the same if he takes office.
“Urrutia is a great guy that has always represented the club. Urrutia continues to do good things for Athletic. He has always put the Socios and fans first, even if it means opening himself up to criticism. We will do the same, but I will be a different President because I am a different person. I want to influence and continue many things that he has done, but Athletic has a certain Presidential touch, just like every organization. Everyone has a different style and I have my own. I’m different, I’m not Urrutia.”
Athletic’s elections have been overshadowed by the current state of the first team, but Uribe-Echevarría said that when he made the decision to step forward he wasn’t just thinking about the short term issues. He believes that the team has the quality to be much higher in the La Liga table and highlighted Lezama as one of the best youth systems in all of football.
“When we presented ourselves we were not thinking about just short-term situations. We are concerned about the present and future. There is hope and I think we will go out and make things right. Athletic’s situation worried me, especially because I am a Socio. We have the players and structure to be higher in the league, much higher. Lezama is a world-class, top-level, high-performance center. I’ve heard some say that we need to look at how other clubs do things, but the truth is that these clubs have come to Lezama to learn from us.”
Throughout the elections there have been many statements made about Athletic’s finances with some claiming that the team will not be able to continue raising wages at the rate they have been. The former Accountant admitted that he finds it all funny because the club’s economic situation is in great condition.
“I have found the statements about Athletic’s financial situation to be funny, even funnier that they are being made by people who are not members. If there are self-imposed restrictions, they don’t exist because of money. I’ve heard some say that the finances are falling apart and others say that Athletic has to sign more players. You can’t do everything, but the problem of the wage bill isn’t the most important issue. Having a continual economic board provides more leeway and no conflict of interest.”
In closing, Uribe-Echevarría brought the attention back to the team. He said that football, especially Athletic football, is a major part of his life and that he suffers when the team doesn’t play well. He didn’t make the choice to run for President out of his own desire, but because of the responsibility he feels to help the club.
“Whenever Athletic loses I sleep badly. When they suffer I suffer. Football is a big part of my life and so is Athletic. The Presidency of Athletic cannot be taken as something that helps your personal ego. It’s a matter of responsibility but, of course, it also makes me so excited. I have never had any idols, although I have to admit that the day I met Iribar I almost fell off my chair. My favorite player has also been Dani, a smart guy who gave us all joy. Collecting the signatures has been an opportunity to meet with old friends who have come to give me their support. Sometimes I can’t help but get excited.”
Athletic Club Presidential candidates are currently working to collect the nearly 3,000 Socio signatures needed to formalize their candidacies by 7 December. If Uribe-Echevarría and opponent Aitor Elizegi are able to do so, they will both be officially presented on 12 December with elections scheduled to take place on 27 December. The winner would be sworn in as the new President of Athletic Club the following day.