Athletic Vice President Mikel Martínez Calls Talk Of Playing Football Again In May “Reckless”

Aitor Elizegi Osasuna

Doctor Mikel Martínez with Aitor Elizegi (AC)

Athletic Vice President Mikel Martínez is in a unique position given the current situation surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic. Along with serving the club, Martínez is also a doctor and head of the Emergency Center at Hospital de Basurto. He’s seen how medical professionals are fighting the outbreak while also being able to give a different perspective of what the crisis means for football.

“The virus has been isolated very quickly but normality will still take time,” Martínez told El Pais during an interview on Wednesday. “The return to normality and life will be gradual. It will go little by little. First will be the industries, then I think that going out with children, playing sports or walking, and possibly small groups will be allowed.”

La Liga and the Spanish Football Federation have been constantly working on potential plans for when the season is able to return. Most scenarios suggest that play could be resumed in June, though the most optimistic models have late May as a possibility. Martínez disagrees.

“Talking about sporting events being able to return in May is almost reckless. I don’t think it would be possible unless it’s behind closed doors. Things are improving a little bit, but if the control measures are loosened we run the risk of increasing the cases again.”

In addition to the league campaign being uncertain, Athletic are also concerned about the Copa del Rey final which was originally scheduled for 18 April. In the opinion of Dr. Martínez that too will likely have to wait a few months.

San Mames Copa Granada

“I don’t think it’s possible to play the Cup final before the summer.” (AC)

“I don’t think it’s possible to play the Cup final before the summer. A final cannot be played without an audience. I don’t think it’s feasible to do it in June, but maybe at the end of July or August. There are many things that have to be studied to balance the calendars.”

In light of the football stoppage club’s are now facing a very serious financial dilemma. Some clubs have already moved to lower wages, but Athletic will wait until the situation becomes more clear.

“We are studying everything and the decisions that have to be made will be made in solidarity with all levels of the club. We will have to adapt. The Board meets on Sundays by videoconference and we discuss all the variables and scenarios that can occur.”

For now football is secondary. The health of people is the only priority and everyone at Athletic are doing their part to help fight the pandemic. In time San Mamés will be roaring again, but until then there are more important matters.

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