With protective gear supplies rapidly depleting in Spain, Valencia owner Peter Lim has donated 50,000 face masks and 300 thermometers to local hospitals, as the club vows to do all it can to aid the city’s fight against Covid-19.
The FFP2 face masks provide better protection against the infection than surgical masks, and will give a much-needed boost to healthcare workers on the frontline as such equipment become harder to acquire.
“They (masks) are very difficult to source now. Even if you want to buy them, you cannot,” said club president Anil Murthy in an exclusive interview with Batzine. “From the club’s perspective, being the most important football club in the region and social ambassador of the city, we are trying our best to see where we can help. To do things that matter.”
That was also why Valencia proactively tested first-team players and staff for the virus, even though they knew it would invite bad press, since more tests would likely lead to more positive results. Indeed, the tests eventually found that 35 per cent of first-team players and staff, or about a dozen people, had the virus. The news was widely carried by the international media.
But the club believed safety and social responsibility were more important than initial bad press. The tests gave the players, staff and their families peace of mind, and prevented them from unknowingly passing the virus on.
“Football is an intensive contact sport. Our players are so exposed and having come back from Milan they had a high chance of having it. So we had to take precautions to avoid a possible spread,” Murthy explained, referring to the Champions League match against Atalanta.
At their match against Real Betis on Feb 29, no media interviews were allowed. There were also no player mascots and no kids following the players out.
“Now, two weeks have passed and everyone is doing well,” said Murthy. “No one developed symptoms. Everyone is fine, everyone is working. We will continue to look for ways to help in this crisis. And we hope that many more will come forward to help.”