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Spanish sports stars unite to take on the coronavirus

Rafael Nadal hugs his close friend Pau Gasol after winning a tournament.
Rafael Nadal hugs his close friend Pau Gasol after winning a tournament. / SUR
  • Rafael Nadal and Pau Gasol have been encouraging fellow athletes to join the Red Cross campaign to raise 11 million euros

Spanish sports stars Rafael Nadal and Pau Gasol have joined forces in giving their backing to the charitable initiative Cruz Roja Responde (Red Cross Responds), through which they hope to raise a total of 11 million euros with other Spanish athletes as a way to give back to the public that has supported them throughout their careers and help alleviate the effects of the coronavirus.

"I was at home for a few days thinking about how I could do my bit and after much thought I came to the conclusion that you, the Spanish people, have never failed us athletes. You have always been by our side during both the happy and the difficult times. I think that athletes are what we are largely thanks to your support and now is the time when athletes must be there for you," said tennis star Nadal in a video broadcast on social media.

The tennis player called his "friend Pau", who "was also thinking how we could do something" to fight the pandemic. "Together we came to the conclusion that it was time we joined this initiative through which we hope to bring together all of Spanish sport and give a good show of unity," he said.

As a result, the pair decided to spearhead the Red Cross Responds project. "The objective is clear: to raise 11 million euros to help 1,350,000 people. We are confident that every part of Spanish sport will come together. Pau and I have already made our donation because we trust in you and we know for sure that this will be our most important victory yet," added Nadal.

Similarly, basketball player Pau Gasol launched his appeal for support from other Spanish athletes on social media. "This fight belongs to all of us. Spanish athletes have always tried to make you feel proud and to be a source of inspiration for you. Today we want to achieve something much more important," he said.

The Red Cross, the organisation leading and coordinating the campaign, explained that its aim was "to reduce the effects of the pandemic" by adapting its regular services and activities, adopting new measures and supporting the public authorities to ensure that the right help was still received by "the population in general and especially to people at highest risk".

Initial support

As soon as the initiative received the publicity boost given by Nadal and Gasol, a number of the country's outstanding sportsmen and women pledged their support to the campaign under the banner of #NuestraMejorVictoria (#OurBestVictory).

The first was racing driver Fernando Alonso. "I'm answering the call of Red Cross Responds, along with Pau Gasol and Rafa Nadal," he said. "Spanish sport has always enjoyed your support and encouragement. Now, we're out to get our best victory yet."

In much the same way, the former captain of the Spanish football team, Iker Casillas, gave his support. "In the face of this global health emergency, it is our time to work together to try to make things better at this difficult time," said the goalkeeper who currently plays in Portugal with FC Porto.

Former national team coach and current coach of Sevilla, Julen Lopetegui, also responded to the call in "this momentous time for society".

"I encourage all sportsmen and women to join this initiative so that we can give back, even if it is in small doses, that love and support that we have always felt in our careers," he said.

Support then started to arrive from all angles. From the world of tennis, Nadal's coach, Carlos Moyá, pledged his support, as did current players Roberto Bautista, Garbiñe Muguruza, Pablo Andújar and Paula Badosa, among others.

From the world of football, representatives of the two greats, Barcelona (Sergi Busquets) and Real Madrid (Dani Carvajal and Nacho Fernández ), also contributed.