Two years in the past, Cardassar misplaced all the things. Now they’re chasing Copa del Rey glory vs. Atletico Madrid


“You ask your self ‘now what?’ You are feeling so powerless. You may’t even take into consideration attempting to repair it. It is too huge.”

Jaume Soler is 30 years previous. He was 27 when he turned president of his hometown membership, CE Cardassar, now in Spain’s non-professional, regionalised Tercera Division. His workforce have been given a dream tie within the Copa del Rey, internet hosting Atletico Madrid within the first spherical on Wednesday stream LIVE within the U.S., 12:50 p.m. ET, ESPN+ however Jaume is not speaking concerning the greatest sport within the membership’s historical past but.

He is speaking concerning the night time they misplaced all the things.

“We took over in June,” mentioned Soler. “We might been in cost for 3 months when the catastrophe occurred.”

– Stream Copa del Rey LIVE on ESPN+ (U.S.):
CE Cardassar vs. Atletico Madrid, 12/16, 12:50 p.m. ET
– Viewing information: All fixtures, streaming stay (U.S.)

On the night of Oct. 9 2018, torrential rain fell on Sant Llorenc des Cardassar, a quiet city of round 4,000 folks, lots of whom earn a dwelling from tourism on the close by Mallorca coast. The waters of the Begura de Salma — extra a stream than a river, operating from the hills above, previous the city, to the coast beneath — started to rise and earlier than authorities evacuation warnings might be issued, a flash flood with waters over three metres (virtually 10 ft) excessive swept by way of the city. In all, 13 folks died, with greater than 200 had been left homeless.

Within the aftermath of the flooding, a college research discovered that in simply quarter-hour, a circulation of 442 cubic metres (15,609 cubic ft) of water per second had constructed up. That is the identical as Spain’s longest river, the Ebro, however in an area 1000 occasions smaller.

“There had been flooding earlier than [in the area], my dad and mom and grandparents had advised me about it, however not on that scale,” midfielder Ivan Antich, who joined the membership on the age of 5, advised ESPN. “Not with that a lot energy, inflicting that a lot injury.”

“I am 22 and I would by no means seen something prefer it,” defender Sergi Febrer, one other native resident, mentioned. “I would by no means even heard folks discuss it. It is the type of factor you’d write a guide about.”

Javi Lopez was born in Valencia, however has spent the final three years taking part in for golf equipment within the space round Sant Llorenc. “Strolling by way of the streets, it was like a horror film,” he advised ESPN. “There have been no lights. Plenty of police. Mud in every single place. I advised my household it was like [Brad Pitt movie] Fury. A lot mud. The whole lot was destroyed.”


Cardassar’s compact Es Moleter floor sits on the sting of city, alongside the Begura de Salma stream and simply throughout from the place the flood waters got here in to city. Earlier than the ideas of gamers and workers turned to the state of the membership’s residence, although, there have been extra speedy considerations: the wellbeing of household and pals.

“I used to be taking part in for [local Tercera club] Manacor then, which is 10 minutes away by automotive,” Lopez mentioned. “We had coaching that day. There was a lad who performed with us who lived in Sant Llorenc. 5 minutes earlier, he’d been calling asking me to go for a espresso. We began to get movies, telephone calls about what was taking place. After which he wasn’t choosing up the telephone. It was actually worrying.”

The cell phone community was down, making contacting anybody inconceivable. Moving into city was inconceivable, too.

“I bear in mind it completely,” Antich advised ESPN. “I used to be getting back from work, it was getting darkish. Driving into city I virtually bought caught within the water, however I managed to get previous and stopped in an space that wasn’t affected by the flooding.

“At round 11 p.m., the emergency providers allow us to in. I went to my dad and mom’ home to verify in the event that they had been okay, after which I went to verify on the neighbours. There have been 20 or 30 vehicles all piled on prime of one another. The whole lot was filled with mud. Individuals had been crying. I get emotional simply speaking about it.”

After which there was Cardassar’s residence, Es Moleter. Or moderately, there wasn’t. It was gone.

“The following day we went to see how the pitch was,” Antich says. “And there wasn’t a soccer pitch there.”

Trying on the photos, you get an thought of the size of the injury. The sheer drive of the flood waters had torn the bogus floor from the bottom beneath. It lay in a twisted heap at one finish of the sphere, like a rug that had been picked up and thrown down in a rush. The grandstand was nonetheless upright, nevertheless it had a view of a sea of mud.

The membership’s losses prolonged past the pitch itself. “We had lockers within the dressing rooms the place we saved our boots and issues like that. All of it was taken by the water,” Antich mentioned. “We did not have a single boot left.”

“We misplaced all the things. The whole lot,” Soler mentioned. “Even the washing machines, which had been filled with equipment, disappeared. We did not have any kits, simply think about. We had nothing. After which there was the injury to the pitch. We needed to exchange all the things. The floor, the sprinklers, the partitions, the dressing rooms, the loos, the bar, the plumbing, electrical energy, the photo voltaic panels. The whole lot. The whole lot.”

Over the times and weeks that adopted, the sluggish technique of rebuilding the city started. “Above all, I helped my household,” Febrer mentioned. “My cousins’ home was affected. I spent most of my time there. I went to the soccer pitch too, once I might, however more often than not I used to be with my cousins. Household got here first.”

“The primary night time, and the following day, we had been in shock,” Antich added. “We did not know easy methods to react. However then folks began serving to their neighbours. That is the picture that has stayed with me, folks with their very own issues, providing a hand wherever it was wanted. Very first thing within the morning we might hand out cleansing merchandise, brooms, gloves, boots, and after we completed, we might begin cleansing.”

It wasn’t clear if the soccer membership — as a lot a group establishment and hub for the city’s youngsters as a modest workforce close to the underside of the Spanish soccer pyramid — might be saved.

“You ask your self what to do, should you ought to hold going,” Soler mentioned. “We had been underneath no obligation. The city corridor advised us to not fear, they’d search for options. The simplest factor would have been to go away it.”

However assist arrived. Mallorca native Rafa Nadal, who was born in close by Manacor and was noticed serving to out with the clean-up efforts, donated 1,000,000 euros to rebuild sporting services within the space. A pleasant match was organized between a Balearic Islands XI and the island’s greatest workforce, Actual Mallorca, with proceeds from ticket gross sales going to Cardassar. Osasuna donated a set of their away kits, which had been yellow like Cardassar’s residence strip, and footballs.

By Jan. 5 2019, simply three months later, the stadium was able to open once more.

Their story of tragedy, unity and restoration is exceptional sufficient, however what’s occurred on that new pitch since may simply match it. “It isn’t like after the flooding, we misplaced all our video games. It was the exact opposite,” Febrer mentioned. “Everyone knows one another, most of us are from the city. We turned nearer.”

When the flood occurred, morale was dangerous. Soccer was an escape valve, each Sunday, going to see the primary workforce.”

In 2018-19, Cardassar had been in Primera Regional — the fifth tier of Spanish soccer — having been relegated the earlier 12 months. Regardless of the difficulties brought on by the flooding, they ended the season in third place, and had been promoted to Preferente. Their 2019-20 marketing campaign was disrupted once more, this time by the coronavirus pandemic, however when decrease league soccer in Spain was deserted, Cardassar had been prime of the desk, 14 factors away from their nearest rivals, and had been named champions. That gave them the prospect to face the champions of neighbouring islands Menorca and Ibiza, the place victory put them into the qualifying rounds of the Copa del Rey.

A tense penalty shootout win over CF Epila of Zaragoza on November 11 noticed them guide a spot within the first spherical draw; underneath a brand new cup format geared toward rising the drama and the probabilities of huge upsets and David vs. Goliath matches, that meant Cardassar had been assured a top-flight opponent. In a one-off sport. At residence.

“I’ve spent quite a lot of years working in soccer on this island,” coach Miquel Angel Tomas, who took over in 2019, advised ESPN. “You’ve gotten quite a lot of good occasions. Others not a lot. There’s quite a lot of sacrifice. So the day you handle to beat Epila, which lets you play a First Division workforce, it is a feeling of such happiness. I will at all times keep in mind that day. You want everybody to expertise one thing prefer it as soon as of their life.”

Then got here the Copa del Rey draw.

“It was a Monday,” Sergi Febrer mentioned. “These of us who did not need to work bought collectively in a bar within the city sq.. The draw began and the large names, those all of us wished like Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, weren’t popping out. I believe we had been the second-to-last title within the draw. You knew we might get somebody good, however Atleti had been one of the best. Everybody was on their ft shouting. I am a Barça fan, however of the groups we might have gotten, the one which excited me probably the most was Atleti.”

“It was an unimaginable feeling,” Javi Lopez mentioned. “There are not any phrases. We had been leaping round, yelling.”

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So how do you put together for a sport in opposition to one of the best workforce in Spain proper now?

“Individuals say, ‘It is Atletico Madrid, what are you going to do?'” Lopez laughed. “And I say ‘Get pleasure from myself, what else am I going to do?’ I will most likely by no means get to play them once more.”

Antich — who, at 30, has been in Cardassar’s first workforce for a decade — will miss the match after lately present process surgical procedure. “And I am a Actual Madrid fan!” he says. “It could have been an additional motivation. However I used to be simply operated on for appendicitis. Soccer is like that — typically accidents come if you least need them to.”

Will probably be a tense night within the Tomas family too, because the coach’s father is a lifelong Atletico supporter. “You are a fan, and your son is a coach in decrease league soccer, and sooner or later you’ve the prospect to see the workforce of your life in opposition to the workforce your son coaches,” he advised ESPN. “The perfect factor would have been for me to educate Atleti, however that is not going to occur!

“He has this not less than… and I will be capable to inform my grandchildren that sooner or later, their grandfather confronted off in opposition to a fantastic coach like Diego Simeone.”

There have been some preliminary doubts about Es Moleter’s capability to host such a sport, however with days to spare, inspectors from the Spanish soccer federation confirmed that it is as much as the duty. Coronavirus restrictions imply 305 folks will be capable to attend, and the membership has determined that 150 of them would be the children who play for its youth groups, whereas 100 of the membership’s 600 loyal socios can be chosen at random. Tennis star Nadal has additionally been invited as a visitor of honour given his very important donations.

“The one draw back is that lots of people will not be capable to attend,” membership president Soler advised ESPN. “It is a big day. We have got the identical group of gamers we had two years in the past. Numerous them skilled what occurred.

“Two promotions in a row, stepping into the Copa del Rey, promoted to the Third Division… in a sporting sense, issues could not have gone higher. Now we have 96 years of historical past and our greatest was the 12 months after the flood.”





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