From penalty box to ballot box: Levante’s goalkeeper set to miss La Liga match after being called up to work at a polling station

© Reuters / Susana Vera / Free

Fans of La Liga side Levante are wondering who will be playing in goal for their side against Athletic Bilbao after the goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez was called up to work at a polling station.

The parliamentary elections in Spain take place on Sunday, and Fernandez, who is on a reserve list of staffers required to attend the polling station at his Basque home town of Mondragon, 50 kilometers from Bilbao. Only once he has arrived will be informed whether he will be required to work at the polling station that day.

All Spanish residents on the electoral register are liable to be called up to work at polling stations near their home town. Those who work the shift are paid $72 (€65), and any citizens who wish to be excused from duty must demonstrate suitable mitigating circumstances.

Unfortunately, Levante’s appeal to ensure Fernandez’s availability for the match failed when the local Electoral Commission rejected the request. The club are expected to file a second appeal on Friday in a bid to secure their goalkeeper’s services for the match.

Levante are hoping the precedent set by Bilbao’s Inaki Williams in 2015 will help their case. Williams was excused from polling station duty so he could play his side’s La Liga fixture against Levante. Williams went on to make a match-winning contribution as he scored in Bilbao’s 2-0 victory.

Fernandez said that while his attendance at the polling station remains a commitment he must follow, he will nonetheless do his utmost to get to Bilbao in time to play the match if he’s not required to actually work at the polling station on the day.

“The club’s working so that I don’t have to go there (polling station) on Sunday,” he said.

“I just want to know what’s going on. I’m fully focused on the game and I’m certain I’ll be playing in it.

“If needs be I can sleep at home, go down to the station, and then get myself to San Mames by car.”

The club is hoping to build on the momentum of their last La Liga match, where they shocked Barcelona 3-1 in one of the biggest shock results of the season so far.

Fernandez wasn’t the only Levante player provisionally called up to work a polling station this coming weekend. His teammate Jorge Miramon received similar notice to attend his local polling station in Zaragoza but, in contrast to Fernandez’s situation, he was a later excused duty and freed up to play.

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