National team offers Spain's health service facilities, staff

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales has offered the country’s health service the national team’s lodging and some of its staff to help cope with the coronavirus crisis.

Soccer Football - Spain Press Conference - Spanish Football Federation Headquarters, Las Rozas, Madrid, Spain - November 19, 2019 Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales during the press conference REUTERS/Susana Vera

Spain’s health ministry reported a rise to 3,434 deaths on Wednesday, with more than 47,000 cases in the country, which is the worst affected in Europe behind Italy.

“The national team’s hotel is at the disposition of the authorities as a hospital, for health workers to stay in, whatever they need,” Rubiales told a news conference.

“Our psychologists and physiotherapists are also at the disposition of the health service workers,” he added.

Real Madrid were thanked by the local Madrid government on Tuesday for making a ‘sizeable donation’ to help fight the virus, while captain Sergio Ramos and his wife Pilar Rubio donated 264,000 face masks and 15,000 coronavirus testing kits through charitable organisation UNICEF.

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi also donated 1 million euros to Hospital Clinic in Barcelona and a medical centre in his native Argentina.

Rubiales also pledged RFEF financial help to clubs which need it because of the coronavirus crisis hitting their earnings as Spanish soccer has been put on hold indefinitely.

The RFEF was planning to open a line of credit worth 500 million euros ($540 million) to clubs who will not be able to claim their full television rights, which could be paid back over five years, while 4 million euros will be loaned to non-professional clubs for both men and women.

“We want to sit down with La Liga to talk about the problems that some clubs might have,” Rubiales said.

“My message is one of union, hope, discipline. All of football, from the modest to the elite, we should send a message of solidarity, together we will stop this virus,” he added.

($1 = 0.9252 euros)

Reporting by Rik Sharma; Editing by Alexander Smith