Spanish sports celebrities Rafael Nadal and Pau Gasol on Thursday launched a fund-raising drive, explaining that they wanted to give something back to the virus-hit nation that nurtured them to greatness.
Tennis ace Nadal and NBA hero Gasol have targeted raising 11 million euros (US$12.11 million) in the nation that has experienced the second-highest total of COVID-19 deaths.
“The Spanish people have never let us athletes down. We are what we are because of them,” said Nadal, a 19-time Grand Slam winner.
“We cannot let them down now,” the world No. 2 tennis player said.
Nadal said that he came up with the idea, and called his fellow Spaniard and friend Gasol to help promote his drive.
“Spanish athletes have always tried to make our nation proud. Today we want to go beyond that,” said Gasol, the Milwaukee Bucks star and double NBA champion.
“We want to raise 11 million euros and help 1.34 million people — those hardest hit by the coronavirus,” the 39-year-old center said.
“My contribution and Rafa’s [Rafael Nadal], too, have already been made and I hope the whole of Spanish sport will rally behind us,” he said.
Among the first to respond was World Cup winning goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
“It’s the time for Spanish sport and it’s up to us to do our part,” he tweeted. “I have already contributed.”
Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui, a former Spain manager, posted his support on Nadal’s Instagram account.
“I hope all athletes will join this initiative and we can return, even if in a small amount, all that support that we have all enjoyed in our careers,” Lopetegui said.
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