Wednesday, August 29, 2007

La Liga news round-up: RIP Antonio Puerta

"Today has been one of the saddest days in the history of Sevilla FC," Del Nido told the club's official website. "The diamond left-footed player Antonio Puerta has left us, a player that changed our lives now leaves us."

The man who scored this goal in extra time against Schalke to take Sevilla into their first ever European final and the last penalty in the shoot-out which won them their second UEFA Cup in 2 seasons has left us. 22-year-old Antonio Puerta was one of the rising stars of Spanish football, and had passed a club medical just 20 days ago, before he collapsed on the pitch just 30 minutes into the first game of the season.

I'm just shocked. Tim at La Liga Loca has a far more eloquent tribute to the young man. Rest in peace, Antonio. I hope you'll be watching the brilliant team that you were a part of from the big football pitch up in the sky.

Understandably, Sevilla's second round Champions League qualifier against AEK Athens has been postponed and is tentatively set to be played next Monday instead. The La Liga game against Osasuna which was to be played on that date will now be rescheduled. The European Super Cup clash against AC Milan will still go ahead on Friday, but will now be arranged as a tribute to Puerta.

Not that it matters next to the death of a young man, but because of the suspension of the Champions League game, UEFA are currently looking for a solution to the problem this has caused for the draw for the group stages, to be held this week. The rules regarding teams from the same country not meeting in the group stages will complicate the draw, given that we do not yet know whether Sevilla or AEK will progress. One solution which has been investigated is holding the draw twice, once assuming that Sevilla qualify and once in case AEK do in their stead.

Real Madrid have decided to suspend their traditional season opener friendly, the Santiago Bernabeu Trophy which was to be played against Sporting Lisbon out of respect for the memory of Puerta. President Calderon and captain Raul both expressed their condolences on the club website.

The fans of Seville's city rivals Real Betis have behaved very well in this horrible situation. Many joined the Sevilla fans keeping a vigil outside the hospital, and many showed up to pay their respects once the coffin reached the Sanchez Pizjuán stadium. Even mad owner Manuel Ruiz de Lopera behaved well, issuing a graceful statement of sympathy.


The club has expressed its condolences for the tragic death of Puerta via a message on the club website, given by captain Carles Puyol.

The scheduled festivities preceding the Joan Gamper Trophy match against Inter have been cancelled out of respect for the memory of Puerta, and the club will donate 10 percent of all proceeds from the game to the research of cardiovascular diseases.

There will be a minute's silence, in memory of both Puerta and former vice-president Nicolau Casaus, who died earlier this year. The acts of tribute set to be carried out in honour of Casaus before the game will still go ahead.

Club president Joan Laporta, technical director Txiki Begiristain and Puyol will attend the funeral of the Sevilla player on behalf of the club.

In other, less depressing news, defender Jesus Olmo has been allowed to join Racing de Ferrol in the second division for one season, although the club have retained a buy-back option on the player, who has played several times for the first team.

Olmo will join former third-choice goalkeeper Ruben Martinez, who is there on loan.

Happy birthday to Thiago Motta, who turns 25, and Bojan Krkic, who turns 17.

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