A Basque in Boise

The Lions of Bilbao: A view from the outside

In a few hours, Athletic de Bilbao will face Athlético de Madrid in what could be a historic game for the Basque team. This is Athletic’s first European final in 35 years, and the last time they played Athletic lost by narrow defeat on away goals against Juventus in the 1977 UEFA Cup final.

Making it all the way to a final, whether at a national or international level, it’s always hard work and always rewarding. However, when the team rising to the top is made up entirely of local players, it adds an even more special touch to the feat. I know, this issue has been talked about so many times that I’m sure there is no one left in the world who hasn’t heard about it – especially given our team’s extraordinary run this season. Athletic’s fans love it and most people admire it, but there also those who don’t agree with it. Others simply don’t understand it, as reflected by the following question posed by a reader: Would importing non-Basques significantly improve the team (winning is everything) or is it more important to be the Basque team?

In my opinion, when it really comes down to it, people think what they want to think without making an effort to look at the facts, and many like to turn Athletic’s philosophy into a political argument. I’m the first one to admit I never bothered to find out exactly what the requisites were to be considered “Basque” under Athletic’s hiring philosophy, so I got in touch with Javier Ucha Marquiegui, Foregin Affairs and Member Service Manager for Athletic de Bilbao, who confirmed that in order to play for the team you have to either “come up through the club’s young players’ reserve or the young players’ reserve of the other clubs in the Basque Country (Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa, Araba, Nafarroa, Lapurdi, Zuberoa and Nafarroa Behera), or be born in these territories”. It’s that simple.

A couple of years ago Athletic considered including players from the Diaspora as potential team players, but the initiative was shut down by the members. So much for cheering my son Andoni in San Mamés as an Athletic player. I guess he’ll just have to take Messi’s place in Barcelona FC. And that’s ok. It is not easy to do what Athletic has been doing for so many years. Lines have to be drawn at some point, and once in a while they will be blurry. We need to remember that the parameters Athletic uses to determine who can play in the team are only within the context of soccer.

I read an article last week where actor Antonio Molero raves about his team, Athletic de Bilbao. It wouldn’t be anything special except that he comes from a family in Toledo, Spain. I started to wonder what people from other countries or who follow other teams thought on this matter, so I took a (very unofficial) poll on Facebook in order to find out.

Michael, a native Idahoan, doesn’t support Athletic de Bilbao because as a non-Basque it’s hard for him to embrace a team with their philosophy. Michael is no stranger to the Basque Country, as he lived there for a year back in 1995, has been back multiple times since then, and even has a couple of  Basque-American kids. He genuinely loves the Basque Country, and believes that “there are many ways that the team could create a much more inclusive experience for people who are not native Basques”. In his opinion, “if it were a matter of simply supporting local players in order to give them an opportunity to play at the highest level, that would be more palatable. However, when you add the element of non-local players born in the Basque Country (Basque players) who didn’t actually play on regional teams, then the policy begins to take on subtle tones of racism.”

Third generation Basque-American Mark Bieter, another Idahoan now living in DC, agrees with Michael to a certain extent. “I suppose there’s a bit of truth to what he says, although I don’t think it’s racist. I’m not sure exactly what the rules are, but from what I understand you have to be from the Basque provinces, and that’s not racist. The story about the black who plays there now is a perfect example. Maybe it’s regionalism”. In Mark’s opinion, Americans have a different perspective on these type of issues and “cringe at those kind of exclusions”. However, he continues, “Basques have a unique history and so does Spain. I think that’s part of the reason Basques are still around (as opposed to, say, the Romans or the Vikings) is because in general they are conservative and ethnocentric. They’ve had to be. So it makes perfect sense for Athletic to say we’re only having Basque players (however they define Basque).”

Michael and Mark are not the only ones who mention racism when asked about Athletic’s philosophy. Sean Hopwood, Office Manager at Day Translations in Miami and a Real Madrid fan, likes Athletic’s policy but points out that if a US sports team tried to implement something similar it would be considered racist. He thinks it’s weird how people are so proud of their roots, their blood, and how many live by those two things, when in reality we’re all very similar: Catalans, Serbians, Croatians, Bosnia, etc. They all want to be their own country. In his opinion, nationalism stems from people’s need to feel unique and special, to feel they belong to something bigger than they are.

Josu Zubizarreta, also a third-generation Basque from Boise, thinks that the philosophy is awesome because it makes Athletic more than just a regular club. It allows for local players to truly dream and aspire to play in first division. From the fans perspective, you can root for people who feel like family members. In Josu’s opinion, it’s an amazing model of how a team can be successful without having to spend hundreds of millions a year. On the other hand, and along the same lines as Michael’s opinion, Josu believes that the philosophy becomes twisted sometimes. He finds it very frustrating that players who are actively involved in the Basque culture but were born in the diaspora (Zabaleta, Forlan) can’t play for Athletic, while others are on the team by pure coincidence (David Lopez).

Chilean-Basque Gustavo Ossa Medina is another proud supporter of Athletic’s philosophy who couldn’t help but brag about Higinio Ortúzar Santamaría (born January 10, 1915), a retired Chilean soccer player who got to play for Athletic Bilbao during the first half of the 1930’s. He played for Erandio and for Barakaldo FB before making it to first division. All four of Ortuzar’s grandparents were Basque immigrants and he didn’t have any problems playing for a team that hadn’t hired a foreigner since 1911. This is a very good example of those blurry lines I mentioned before. However, I think Athletic has been much more linear and consistent with his hiring policy since then.

Even Real Sociedad followers have good things to say about Athletic. Mariluz Grandal, was born in Donosti but now lives Sweden with her husband and daughter. She admires the way Athletic clings to his hiring policy in such a competitive league as La Liga, and points out how, despite it all, the Lions have managed to always stay in the first division. (The only two other teams who can make that claim are Barcelona and Real Madrid).

These are just some of the comments I received. I have no doubt yours will be different, and I would love to hear it. I will publish every opinion, as long as it’s written nicely and respectful of other people.

AUPA ATHLETIC! 

 

 

Thanks for passing by: ↓

Maria Jesusl Raku aita Mark Bieter irune Ysabel Bilbao Ainhoa Michael Hollenbeck Janice Ravi Steven Roosevelt Mr Cromwell Michel HACALA

48 thoughts on “The Lions of Bilbao: A view from the outside

  1. Raku

    ORAIN ETA BETI…. ATHLETIC!!! Es lógico que una política deportiva como la del Athletic, por ser única, sea comentada e incluso puesta en entredicho por mucha gente. Todas las opiniones son respetables, incluso hasta las de quienes nos tildan de racistas. Quien así nos ve es porque no conoce realmente nuestra filosofía y su opinión es respetable solo por el hecho de que su visión es bastante sesgada y le impide tener una opinión completamente formada. Todo el mundo tiene derecho a opinar, pero creo firmemente que las únicas opiniones que nos deben de importar son las de la afición del Athletic. Si prácticamente el 100% de los socios y el 100% de los athletizales no socios sufriríamos un paro cardíaco si el Athletic decidiera cambiar su filosofía, eso es signo más que evidente de que se trata de algo no solo enraizado sino motivo de gran orgullo. Nos hace especiales y diferentes. Ser del Athletic es ser especial. Sentirse rojiblanco es movilizarte por toda Europa en una época de crisis mundial, con la gente en paro, con la gente sin poder pagar sus hipotecas, con la gente desconociendo si mañana su empresa hará un ERE… Del Athletic somos las personas y también las cosas. Hoy los balcones, los edificios Y las terrazas de los bares son también del Athletic. Todos ellos se han puesto de gala para empujar a nuestros leones a lo más alto. Todo el mundo debería de tener el privilegio de sentirse rojiblanco por un día y saber lo que se siente. Te puedes quedar sin trabajo, tu pareja que te puede dejar tirada, puedes tener mil problemas… pero somos los únicos que podemos disfrutar de un día como hoy, y eso, no tiene precio. Desde Ortuella hasta Boise, pasando por todos los continentes… Hoy los vizcainos, los Vallisoletanos vascos de adopción, los vascos y descendientes de vascos en la Diáspora vamos a vivir un día especial. Coño, qué lujo es ser del Athletic. ATHLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEETIC!! EUP!!

  2. Raku

    ORAIN ETA BETI…. ATHLETIC!!! Es lógico que una política deportiva como la del Athletic, por ser única, sea comentada e incluso puesta en entredicho por mucha gente. Todas las opiniones son respetables, incluso hasta las de quienes nos tildan de racistas. Quien así nos ve es porque no conoce realmente nuestra filosofía y su opinión es respetable solo por el hecho de que su visión es bastante sesgada y le impide tener una opinión completamente formada. Todo el mundo tiene derecho a opinar, pero creo firmemente que las únicas opiniones que nos deben de importar son las de la afición del Athletic. Si prácticamente el 100% de los socios y el 100% de los athletizales no socios sufriríamos un paro cardíaco si el Athletic decidiera cambiar su filosofía, eso es signo más que evidente de que se trata de algo no solo enraizado sino motivo de gran orgullo. Nos hace especiales y diferentes. Ser del Athletic es ser especial. Sentirse rojiblanco es movilizarte por toda Europa en una época de crisis mundial, con la gente en paro, con la gente sin poder pagar sus hipotecas, con la gente desconociendo si mañana su empresa hará un ERE… Del Athletic somos las personas y también las cosas. Hoy los balcones, los edificios Y las terrazas de los bares son también del Athletic. Todos ellos se han puesto de gala para empujar a nuestros leones a lo más alto. Todo el mundo debería de tener el privilegio de sentirse rojiblanco por un día y saber lo que se siente. Te puedes quedar sin trabajo, tu pareja que te puede dejar tirada, puedes tener mil problemas… pero somos los únicos que podemos disfrutar de un día como hoy, y eso, no tiene precio. Desde Ortuella hasta Boise, pasando por todos los continentes… Hoy los vizcainos, los Vallisoletanos vascos de adopción, los vascos y descendientes de vascos en la Diáspora vamos a vivir un día especial. Coño, qué lujo es ser del Athletic. ATHLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEETIC!! EUP!!

  3. Maria Jesusl

    Yo creo que mucha gente no entiende bien la filosofia de el Athletic,no son racistas por que aqui puede jugar cualquiera haya nacido donde haya nacido el unico requisito es que vivan aqui y se eduquen aqui por lo tanto de racistas nada.

  4. Maria Jesusl

    Yo creo que mucha gente no entiende bien la filosofia de el Athletic,no son racistas por que aqui puede jugar cualquiera haya nacido donde haya nacido el unico requisito es que vivan aqui y se eduquen aqui por lo tanto de racistas nada.

  5. irune

    Creo que es de admirar donde esta el athletic sin jugadores con cifras astronomicas. Ahi, con cuatro aldeanos como quien dice…
    Es un orgullo ser del athletic y una pena que no todo el mundo pueda disfrutar de ello.
    No me haria ni pizca de gracia que se cambiase la politica de contratos. Si lo hacen, me rompen el corazon!!!

  6. irune

    Creo que es de admirar donde esta el athletic sin jugadores con cifras astronomicas. Ahi, con cuatro aldeanos como quien dice…
    Es un orgullo ser del athletic y una pena que no todo el mundo pueda disfrutar de ello.
    No me haria ni pizca de gracia que se cambiase la politica de contratos. Si lo hacen, me rompen el corazon!!!

  7. Ysabel Bilbao

    Nay-syers…get over it. I think it is great! Keep the club the way it is. You can’t make everyone happy. So…are these people who are unhappy with the policy going to tell individual countries that during World Cup games it is racist that only people from a particular country can play on their country’s team. Let’s be honest…Messi will split from Spain to play for Argentina! That may be more apples to oranges…but you can also look at it this way…Athletic is supported by its membership. As individuals they get to decide the rules. And finally…not everyone has to be an Athletic fan…pick another team if you don’t like them! Aupa Athletic!

  8. Ysabel Bilbao

    Nay-syers…get over it. I think it is great! Keep the club the way it is. You can’t make everyone happy. So…are these people who are unhappy with the policy going to tell individual countries that during World Cup games it is racist that only people from a particular country can play on their country’s team. Let’s be honest…Messi will split from Spain to play for Argentina! That may be more apples to oranges…but you can also look at it this way…Athletic is supported by its membership. As individuals they get to decide the rules. And finally…not everyone has to be an Athletic fan…pick another team if you don’t like them! Aupa Athletic!

  9. Michael Hollenbeck

    Please don’t misunderstand some of the opinions expressed by those who aren’t waving their red and white bufandas today. I didn’t read anyone’s suggestion that Athletic should change their policy. If I were Basque I’d be drinking the Kool-Aid too. Athletic’s policy is one that is great if you’re Basque, but I’m a little surprised at Basque folks stunned reactions when non-Basques say “bah, I’m not really a fan”. If you embrace a policy of exclusion for non-Basques just don’t expect that those excluded will feel the same as you. I say keep the Policy, just don’t give me s*&! when I cheer for the other soccer team.

  10. Michael Hollenbeck

    Please don’t misunderstand some of the opinions expressed by those who aren’t waving their red and white bufandas today. I didn’t read anyone’s suggestion that Athletic should change their policy. If I were Basque I’d be drinking the Kool-Aid too. Athletic’s policy is one that is great if you’re Basque, but I’m a little surprised at Basque folks stunned reactions when non-Basques say “bah, I’m not really a fan”. If you embrace a policy of exclusion for non-Basques just don’t expect that those excluded will feel the same as you. I say keep the Policy, just don’t give me s*&! when I cheer for the other soccer team.

  11. Henar Chico

    Even though I disagree with Michael, I can see how it is possible that someone who is not Basque can feel that way. But above all, I would like to thank him for stepping up and sharing his opinion knowing in advance how most of us would react to his point of view, especially today, with the European final at stake. Eskerrik asko!

  12. Henar Chico

    Even though I disagree with Michael, I can see how it is possible that someone who is not Basque can feel that way. But above all, I would like to thank him for stepping up and sharing his opinion knowing in advance how most of us would react to his point of view, especially today, with the European final at stake. Eskerrik asko!

  13. Janice

    THANK YOU for all of this information. I have told you before I live pretty isolated, I do not speak Basque (yet) and I sincerely appreciate your blog! And I CHERISH the Basque Blood that runs through my veins!
    Blessings to you for your sharing!
    Janice

  14. Janice

    THANK YOU for all of this information. I have told you before I live pretty isolated, I do not speak Basque (yet) and I sincerely appreciate your blog! And I CHERISH the Basque Blood that runs through my veins!
    Blessings to you for your sharing!
    Janice

  15. Henar Chico

    It’s my pleasure, Janice. I am so happy you enjoyed the post. I am such an Athletic fan, I wanted to give people an opportunity to express their opinions. Thank you very much for reading and for taking the time to leave your comments!

  16. Henar Chico

    It’s my pleasure, Janice. I am so happy you enjoyed the post. I am such an Athletic fan, I wanted to give people an opportunity to express their opinions. Thank you very much for reading and for taking the time to leave your comments!

  17. Mr Cromwell

    It seems you got served 3-0!!!!!. By reading your post it seems that Basques always have to come up with something political even when sports are involved. It is a shame. They were talking about it at BBC Sports the other day. BTW Congrats to the Atletico de Madrid. And do the Basque girls sport the same hairdos they do in Spain, cause the BBC were making fun of it LOL.

  18. Mr Cromwell

    It seems you got served 3-0!!!!!. By reading your post it seems that Basques always have to come up with something political even when sports are involved. It is a shame. They were talking about it at BBC Sports the other day. BTW Congrats to the Atletico de Madrid. And do the Basque girls sport the same hairdos they do in Spain, cause the BBC were making fun of it LOL.

  19. Henar Chico

    First of all, congratulations to Athletico de Madrid on their win tonight, they played a great game and my cousin Brigi is probably still out celebrating her team’s victory, which makes me happy. That said, by looking at your comment, I don’t think you read my post, and if you did, you’re so one of those people who think what they are going to think without making an effort to look at the facts. Besides, you make it sound like Athletic just lost some game to a neighborhood team of middle-aged married men. Excuse me, but we’re the second best team in the European league. Not only that, we also made it to the final of la Copa del Rey, which we will soon play against Barcelona.

    As far as the hairdo deal, I’m not sure I believe you. You said the BBC guys were laughing! On the other hand, why would you lie, right? I have no idea what the style in Spain is these days, but I get that not everybody can measure up to Amy Winehouse (http://scrapetv.com/News/News%20Pages/Entertainment/images-10/amy-winehouse-meth.jpg), her standards being so “high” and all.

  20. Henar Chico

    First of all, congratulations to Athletico de Madrid on their win tonight, they played a great game and my cousin Brigi is probably still out celebrating her team’s victory, which makes me happy. That said, by looking at your comment, I don’t think you read my post, and if you did, you’re so one of those people who think what they are going to think without making an effort to look at the facts. Besides, you make it sound like Athletic just lost some game to a neighborhood team of middle-aged married men. Excuse me, but we’re the second best team in the European league. Not only that, we also made it to the final of la Copa del Rey, which we will soon play against Barcelona.

    As far as the hairdo deal, I’m not sure I believe you. You said the BBC guys were laughing! On the other hand, why would you lie, right? I have no idea what the style in Spain is these days, but I get that not everybody can measure up to Amy Winehouse (http://scrapetv.com/News/News%20Pages/Entertainment/images-10/amy-winehouse-meth.jpg), her standards being so “high” and all.

  21. Ysabel Bilbao

    I don’t know the Spanish hair styles either…but I do know that others make fun of the English people’s teeth. I guess we all have physical issues. It’s unfortunate that people are so superficial.

  22. Ysabel Bilbao

    I don’t know the Spanish hair styles either…but I do know that others make fun of the English people’s teeth. I guess we all have physical issues. It’s unfortunate that people are so superficial.

  23. Joe Guerricabeitia

    Mr Cromwell-For one with such a name (or a purported name) to point out the politics of the Basques is truly irony, or was that your point? It is true that the political situation is often discussed in the context of the Basques, but that is not a self-directed emphasis. The one-dimensional view point of the Basques is hashed and re-hashed by the major media outlets. The mainstream spends far more time discussing politics than the world-renowned cuisine (2 of the top 10 are from the Basque country, http://www.theworlds50best.com/awards/1-50-winners, ground-breaking cooperative business models (http://www.thenews.coop/blog/co-operative-innovation-lessons-basque-country…I wrote about this here: http://buber.net/Basque/?p=230), the world-class “social” healthcare system leading, etc…

    So now a sports team has brought us to the forefront, making the Euro final cup and the Copa del Rey, oh, and there is a requirement of “Basqueness” to take part in the team. Put them against Athletic de Madrid, the premiere Spanish team (the Yankees of the soccer world, with more ca$h to burn than many teams combined) and you have a “David” vs “Goliath” with the political undertones of the “Spanish vs Basque” Writers couldn’t have created this scenario more perfectly…Now they can re-hash all of their canned Associated Press quotes, and flog the ETA mule, etc…
    @Cromwell beware mediocrity lest you be beheaded twice!

  24. Joe Guerricabeitia

    Mr Cromwell-For one with such a name (or a purported name) to point out the politics of the Basques is truly irony, or was that your point? It is true that the political situation is often discussed in the context of the Basques, but that is not a self-directed emphasis. The one-dimensional view point of the Basques is hashed and re-hashed by the major media outlets. The mainstream spends far more time discussing politics than the world-renowned cuisine (2 of the top 10 are from the Basque country, http://www.theworlds50best.com/awards/1-50-winners, ground-breaking cooperative business models (http://www.thenews.coop/blog/co-operative-innovation-lessons-basque-country…I wrote about this here: http://buber.net/Basque/?p=230), the world-class “social” healthcare system leading, etc…

    So now a sports team has brought us to the forefront, making the Euro final cup and the Copa del Rey, oh, and there is a requirement of “Basqueness” to take part in the team. Put them against Athletic de Madrid, the premiere Spanish team (the Yankees of the soccer world, with more ca$h to burn than many teams combined) and you have a “David” vs “Goliath” with the political undertones of the “Spanish vs Basque” Writers couldn’t have created this scenario more perfectly…Now they can re-hash all of their canned Associated Press quotes, and flog the ETA mule, etc…
    @Cromwell beware mediocrity lest you be beheaded twice!

  25. Mariluz Grandal

    Ssigo pensando lo mismo, debéis estar orgullosos,de vuestra casta y la próxima vez salir al campo con un par de cojones extra que no hubo manera de reconocer al equipo. No jugaron para nada ni la mitad de bien que lo hicieron contra el MU.

  26. Mariluz Grandal

    Ssigo pensando lo mismo, debéis estar orgullosos,de vuestra casta y la próxima vez salir al campo con un par de cojones extra que no hubo manera de reconocer al equipo. No jugaron para nada ni la mitad de bien que lo hicieron contra el MU.

  27. Ainhoa

    For what is worth, I get my hair cut every time I am in my home town of Bilbao, having lived in London for 13 long years. It is cheap, and always has a twist, suiting my features perfectly. I never failed to be complimented on my hairstyle by British women and men alike. So I am not quite sure why you mention hair. Now, if you call dodgy hair extension ‘hairdo’s’ then I understand… By the way, what is it that BBC Sports were talking about? Hair or politics? I don’t quite understand. Being a football fan you will have seen the Guardian comments and blogs… without exception, people were commenting on the beautiful game that Athletic has been serving lately under Bielsa. I watched the match last night and as floored as I was, I must say that losing against one of the finest teams is by no means a failure. We got there , right up to the final just as Athletico de Madrid did. They just played better than we did and they are a superb team. Of course, aided by buckets of money. So, yes, I am very proud of my team and I can’t wait to watch the next match…

  28. Ainhoa

    For what is worth, I get my hair cut every time I am in my home town of Bilbao, having lived in London for 13 long years. It is cheap, and always has a twist, suiting my features perfectly. I never failed to be complimented on my hairstyle by British women and men alike. So I am not quite sure why you mention hair. Now, if you call dodgy hair extension ‘hairdo’s’ then I understand… By the way, what is it that BBC Sports were talking about? Hair or politics? I don’t quite understand. Being a football fan you will have seen the Guardian comments and blogs… without exception, people were commenting on the beautiful game that Athletic has been serving lately under Bielsa. I watched the match last night and as floored as I was, I must say that losing against one of the finest teams is by no means a failure. We got there , right up to the final just as Athletico de Madrid did. They just played better than we did and they are a superb team. Of course, aided by buckets of money. So, yes, I am very proud of my team and I can’t wait to watch the next match…

  29. Ravi

    I am an American who studied in Bilbao one summer in the late 90’s and LOVE Athletic! More importantly I am 100% in agreement with the club’s policy, even though no offspring of mine could ever play for them… All my American soccer buddies follow Chelsea or ManU (whom we beat twice this year!) or ManCity, but who owns those clubs? Crooked oligarchs and oil sheikhs with billions of ill-gotten gains to throw around!

    I love how Athletic is owned by its supporters (like the Green Bay Packers) and invests 100% in its youth system, which is what makes me a fan. I don’t believe it’s racist, cause if you are born and brought up in the region (like Jonas Ramalho), you can play for the club regardless of where your family comes from… All clubs in UEFA must restrict the number of non-EU players, so isn’t that the same thing? The Basque region is a nation within a nation…

    Atletico may have beaten us 3-0 yesterday but they didn’t field a single starter from the team that won the Europa League 2 years ago! I don’t want to see a revolving door of talent like that, nor do I want to see Athletic get caught up in the arms race for the next Falcao and bankrupt themselves like the majority of Spanish clubs…

    I’m devastated by yesterday’s defeat but at the end of the day, everyone in Europe gives Athletic grudging respect for staying true to its roots… AUPA ATHLETIC!

  30. Ravi

    I am an American who studied in Bilbao one summer in the late 90’s and LOVE Athletic! More importantly I am 100% in agreement with the club’s policy, even though no offspring of mine could ever play for them… All my American soccer buddies follow Chelsea or ManU (whom we beat twice this year!) or ManCity, but who owns those clubs? Crooked oligarchs and oil sheikhs with billions of ill-gotten gains to throw around!

    I love how Athletic is owned by its supporters (like the Green Bay Packers) and invests 100% in its youth system, which is what makes me a fan. I don’t believe it’s racist, cause if you are born and brought up in the region (like Jonas Ramalho), you can play for the club regardless of where your family comes from… All clubs in UEFA must restrict the number of non-EU players, so isn’t that the same thing? The Basque region is a nation within a nation…

    Atletico may have beaten us 3-0 yesterday but they didn’t field a single starter from the team that won the Europa League 2 years ago! I don’t want to see a revolving door of talent like that, nor do I want to see Athletic get caught up in the arms race for the next Falcao and bankrupt themselves like the majority of Spanish clubs…

    I’m devastated by yesterday’s defeat but at the end of the day, everyone in Europe gives Athletic grudging respect for staying true to its roots… AUPA ATHLETIC!

  31. Ysabel Bilbao

    Oh and Mike…you know I am a fan of yours! Also…I appreciate your view.

  32. Ysabel Bilbao

    Oh and Mike…you know I am a fan of yours! Also…I appreciate your view.

  33. Michael Hollenbeck

    Thanks Ysabel. I don’t love being the contrarian when my friends are celebrating their (exceptional) futbol team going to the finals. That said, Henar wanted to highlight the diversity of opinions about the topic and I have one ;).
    Congrats to Athletic for a really tremendous effort. Everyone wants to be #1, but it’s still an incredible achievement to make it to the finals.
    Zorionak!

  34. Michael Hollenbeck

    Thanks Ysabel. I don’t love being the contrarian when my friends are celebrating their (exceptional) futbol team going to the finals. That said, Henar wanted to highlight the diversity of opinions about the topic and I have one ;).
    Congrats to Athletic for a really tremendous effort. Everyone wants to be #1, but it’s still an incredible achievement to make it to the finals.
    Zorionak!

  35. Henar Chico

    Hello Ravi, thank you so much for such a nice comment. It’s really cool when someone without Basque ancestry falls in love with Athletic, just like the rest of us. I hope you had a great time in Bilbao (where did you go to study?), that’s actually where I’m from.

    Now, let’s keep our focus on Copa del Rey, shall we?

  36. Henar Chico

    Hello Ravi, thank you so much for such a nice comment. It’s really cool when someone without Basque ancestry falls in love with Athletic, just like the rest of us. I hope you had a great time in Bilbao (where did you go to study?), that’s actually where I’m from.

    Now, let’s keep our focus on Copa del Rey, shall we?

  37. Ravi

    I was in an exchange program in Deusto… My experience in Bilbao was the best summer of my life! Indeed, there would be nothing better than seeing Los Leones lift la Copa del Rey in the Calderon on the 25th!

  38. Ravi

    I was in an exchange program in Deusto… My experience in Bilbao was the best summer of my life! Indeed, there would be nothing better than seeing Los Leones lift la Copa del Rey in the Calderon on the 25th!

  39. Henar Chico

    Really? I went to Deusto from ’91 to ’96, that’s awesome! What year did you go? If you went during the summer I was probably off, enjoying my vacation. I am excited about the Copa del Rey, although just a tiny bit worried two, judging by the last final and last Liga loss against Levante.

  40. Henar Chico

    Really? I went to Deusto from ’91 to ’96, that’s awesome! What year did you go? If you went during the summer I was probably off, enjoying my vacation. I am excited about the Copa del Rey, although just a tiny bit worried two, judging by the last final and last Liga loss against Levante.

  41. Ravi

    I was there the summer of ’99… It was an exchange program through this student org called AIESEC, which had chapters in Deusto and Sarriko back then… Bielsa will have the boys ready for Madrid– I remember the ’09 final and this time we’ll be ready!

  42. Ravi

    I was there the summer of ’99… It was an exchange program through this student org called AIESEC, which had chapters in Deusto and Sarriko back then… Bielsa will have the boys ready for Madrid– I remember the ’09 final and this time we’ll be ready!

  43. Henar Chico

    Aupa Athletic!

    I had never heard of AIESEC, but I googled it and it looks really interesting! Will you be watching the game on the 25 then? It’s in the middle of the day for us…

  44. Henar Chico

    Aupa Athletic!

    I had never heard of AIESEC, but I googled it and it looks really interesting! Will you be watching the game on the 25 then? It’s in the middle of the day for us…

  45. Ravi

    Will be watching the final for sure… it’s a long weekend for us so nobody will be at work that Friday afternoon anyway… jejeje

  46. Ravi

    Will be watching the final for sure… it’s a long weekend for us so nobody will be at work that Friday afternoon anyway… jejeje

  47. cactus

    Although it is 4 years after you published the article, here is my comment. Coming from Baltics I am not Basque at all, but what I understood so far – if I speak Basque and live in Basque country, I am Basque, the one who owns Euskera – euskaldunberri! This concept of nation is beautiful because it does not have anything to do with genetics. I am witness also of incredibly good integration in Basque society of Senegalese who speak well Euskera. Understanding this it is easier to accept the philosophy of the club, isn’t it?

  48. Henar Chico Post author

    Hello Cactus, and thank you for your comment. This article is one of my favorite of the hundreds of posts I’ve published so far, so I really like it when people read it and comment on it. I think you hit the nail on the head, being Basque goes beyond genetics, and I think that’s why the sentiment is so spread out and well maintained all over the world. Thanks again for taking the time to drop us a line!

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