MADRID (Reuters) – Rafael Nadal has issued a rallying cry and called on Spanish athletes to help raise 11 million euros (9.96 million pounds) to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Spain is one of the most badly affected countries in the world with over 56,000 cases and the parliament voted to extend the coronavirus lockdown to at least April 12 after the death toll rose to over 4,000 by Thursday.
Nadal said he spoke with NBA’s Pau Gasol about what they could do to help and came up with the initiative to support the Red Cross in procuring protective equipment and infrastructure to assist vulnerable families in Spain affected by the virus.
“I think that we’re the athletes that we are in large part because of your support and now is that time that your athletes don’t fail you,” Nadal said in a video.
“We reached the conclusion that now is the time to launch an initiative which we hope that all Spanish sports come together in a show of solidarity and a good example of unity to align ourselves with the Red Cross Responde.
“The objective is clear, it’s to raise 11 million euros to help 1.35 million people. We trust that all of Spanish sport comes on board… Pau and I have already made our donations and we trust in you to make sure that this is our best victory.”
Nadal joins a list of athletes helping out the needy, with Roger Federer also announcing on Wednesday that he was donating one million Swiss Francs ($1.03 million) to vulnerable families in his native Switzerland.
Lionel Messi and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola had each donated one million euros to help clinics and medical centres fight the outbreak while Cristiano Ronaldo donated lifesaving equipment to Portuguese hospitals.
Real Madrid said the club’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium will be used as a makeshift storage facility while Sergio Ramos and his wife Pilar Rubio donated 264,000 face masks and 15,000 coronavirus testing kits through charitable organisation UNICEF.