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Athletic members choose coach at the polls

BarcelonaThis Friday, June 24, Athletic Club members are called to the polls to vote for their new president, who will lead the club for years to come. This is the first time in the club’s history that the elections have been held at the Basque team’s stadium in San Mamés, as they were usually held at the Ibaigane Palace. Aitor Elizegi will leave the presidency after three and a half years in office. The Basque businessman took the team in a delicate situation and, during his tenure, has reached two Copa del Rey finals and two Spanish Super Cup finals, and has won one against Barça.

Jon Uriarte, Ricardo Barkala and Iñaki Arechabaleta are the three candidates who will contest the presidency of the Athletic Club. As in all election campaigns, names have been put on the table to get the maximum possible trust from Basque partners. Precisely the position that has caused the most uproar has been that of the coach. Marcelino, who has been the coach of the Bilbao team for the last two seasons, has fulfilled his contract and will not continue in the club, as his defender, Aitor Elizegi, has not run for re-election.

Rivalry on the benches

The game is about old acquaintances. Arechabaleta has reached an agreement with Marcelo Bielsa (Rosario, 66), who has already coached Athletic for two seasons (2011-2012 and 2012-2013). The first year he reached the finals of the Europa League and the Cup, but lost them against Atlético de Madrid and Barça, respectively. The presidential candidate justified the decision to choose Bielsa: “He is probably the most revered and respected coach by professionals in the world.” The Argentine coach presented himself through a video in which he explained that he has already seen the 45 matches played by the Basque team last season, in addition to the 38 in the branch and some in grassroots football. In total, he has made an analysis of 90 matches that he deems necessary to make decisions in a short time on the 40 players he would initially have at his disposal if he finally ends up being the Bilbao coach, among first team players, on loan, transferred players with repurchase clauses and subsidiary players terminating contract.

On the other hand, both Barkala and Uriarte have opted for the return of another acquaintance of the Basque fans: Ernesto Valverde (Cáceres, 58 years old). El Txingurri He coached Athletic in two stages (2003-2005 and 2013-2017) and is the coach with the most matches in the history of the Basque club, with 307. The last stage ended when he signed for Barça, where he coached for two and a half campaigns and ended up being fired for poor results and team play. Since then, he has been without a team. If Barkala wins, Valverde will be reunited with Ramon Planes, former Barça technical secretary (2018-2021), who will act as sporting director. For his part, Uriarte wanted to give great importance to stability in the choice of coach: “We have designed a transformative project in the sports area and, to deploy changes in the structure, it is necessary to have stability “And the coach who can give it is Ernesto. He’s the most successful Athletic player in the last 25 years.”

The controversy over Uriarte’s candidacy

The candidacy led by Jon Uriarte has had the first controversy, as it has been decided to dispense with the Mexican coach Carlos Aviña, who was to be the most important part of the sports organization chart as general manager of football. The reason has been a sexist and homophobic tweet published by Aviña ten years ago, when he was 21. The Mexican has shown his “repentance and rejection” and has been left out of the electoral process. “Given the facts reported on social media, Izan Athletic (the name of the candidacy) and Carlos Aviña consider that the circumstances do not exist for the latter to direct the sports area of ​​the Athletic Club,” explained the candidacy of Uriarte in a statement.

Having submitted more endorsements than the other two candidates, it remains to be seen whether this controversy will hurt Uriarte’s options in the run-up to this Friday’s June 24th election. Barkala and Arechabaleta will be on the lookout to see if they can take his presidency.

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