Aitor Elizegi “Professional Football Has To Send A Message Of Hope”
As the president of Athletic Club, Aitor Elizegi has a myriad of responsibilities. However, nobody was prepared for the current coronavirus pandemic which has sent Spain into lockdown and brought football to a halt. Speaking with Telebilbao, Elizegi called on everyone to come together during this difficult time and shared that his hope is that life will return to normal as quickly as possible
“We must put the focus on the health of our society and those around us. We would like to send the message that we hope to all share Athletic, San Mamés, and the streets together as soon as we can. It’s a shared desire. We all want to get out of this situation together and share life again, to hug and walk hand in hand with a family member. What we miss the most in the Zurigorri world is to hug someone that you love. ”
Elizegi noted that Athletic can still play an important role in society even with football being postponed for the foreseeable future. The players and staff are all following the guidelines given by the local government and have encouraged others to do the same.
“It’s always a great responsibility to be in a club like Athletic. Even in moments as complex as the one we are facing, it’s still a source of pride to see the team be an example and the concern that the players and club have for their community. We are only a reflection of our people and right now we have to spend the day to day with them in this situation.”
La Liga is said to be hopeful of resuming the season by late April or early May. While that may be an optimistic outlook, Elizegi is still more concerned with the safety of people than playing football right now.
“Last week we were talking about rescheduling the final and right now we’re talking about health. The message that we have defended is that it’s not time to talk about the calendar or the final. That has become even more clear when we see clubs who are having problems with this.”
Like other clubs, the football stoppage will hurt Athletic financially. When asked about the potential damages the club will be facing, Elizegi said that things will be analyzed in time and that he’s more concerned about the surrounding community at the moment.
“I hope that one day we will all be together again in San Mamés. When the time comes we will evaluate the damage this has caused, but the important thing right now is that we all reach the end of the tunnel together. We are going to a lose a lot and some will lose too much. The league, UEFA, and FIFA will recover and give quality content again, but it won’t be worth it if we don’t have our fans in our stands.”
In the end, Elizegi wanted to leave fans with a positive outlook. The president hopes that football will be back soon and that life will return to normal. When that finally happens Elizegi is sure that the relationship between the club, players, and fans will be stronger than ever before.
“Professional football has to send a message of hope. It’s an industry that supports many jobs and we want to be close to the fans. We have to go hand in hand with amateur football and the fans. We have to share the future all together. We want to get back to playing with a ball outdoors and seeing children running down the street with a ball. It’s very difficult for two Athleticzales to not be able to embrace each other. We will do it again soon and it will be the strongest it’s been in a long time. I want to share that message with fans of any shirt.”
At this point nobody from Athletic, players or otherwise, have tested positive for the coronavirus. The club has been given tests by La Liga, but will only administer them if absolutely needed in order to provide them to others who are in need. Football may have come to a sudden halt, but Athletic are committed to being an example and making a positive impact on the local community.