BLOG ESPANA
Monday September 21 2015
Getafe go global

From having no Twitter account to becoming front-page news around the world, Garreth Nunn looks at how no-one is laughing at Getafe anymore.

There are not many fans who can look at the League table after three games, see that they are bottom and think, ‘well, at least things are better than last season’. Down at Getafe, most fans are indeed thinking just that. Last season, the club had to sell their Coach to balance their books, the replacement for the sold Coach walked after a few weeks because the club sold a player behind his back, and were involved in another relegation battle. It’s enough to depress anyone, but things are finally looking up for Getafe and nobody is laughing at them anymore.

The new season started was supposed to signal a new dawn at Coliseum Alfonso Perez. Fran Escriba was brought in and the club made some new signings, although the biggest news over the summer was that the club had finally joined Twitter. Amazing as it sounds, and more so considering that there are clubs in Segunda B who have Twitter, Getafe had been way behind when it came to social media and interaction with fans. Getafe had once been a club who were respected in La Liga but, over time, became a laughing stock.

From 2005 to 2010, Getafe had been many supporters’ second club as they made two Copa del Rey finals and played in Europe, but the recession in Spain hit the club hard. The local council cut funding and El Geta failed to understand the problems facing supporters. Ticket prices were increased to try and compensate for the loss of season tickets, but it made things worse and attendances dropped continuously. They became the butt of many La Liga jokes, and things went from comical to absurd at the club. Yet, just when things looked like they were doomed, the penny has finally dropped, with the Twitter launch being just the start. They also made a video to appeal to fans, but there was still more to come. Getafe were on the verge of making worldwide headlines.

The plight and suffering of the Syrian refugees are daily stories around the world. One video of a man running with his children and being tripped up by a media worker shocked and enraged people across the globe. The camerawoman has since been fired and the refugee, Osama Abdul Mohsen, and his sons reached Germany. His story touched many people and so German media decided to look more at Osama. They discovered that he had been a football Coach of a top-flight team in Syria but had fled the war with his family.

The story reached Spain and Cenafe, an academy in Getafe that is dedicated to training Coaches, and they reached out to Mohsen. Using a former graduate who could speak Arabic, they contacted Mohsen and offered him the opportunity to come to Spain with his family and rebuild his life. The Syrian accepted the offer and Cenafe announced that they planned to teach him Spanish and then find him a job. Cenafe used money from their advertising budget to pay for an apartment for the refugee family.

Mohsen arrived in Spain on Wednesday to much media attention. His wife and other two children are still in Turkey, but the process to bring them to Spain has started. The city council recently announced it would help the family and thus asked El Geta to consider giving the refugee a job, to which they replied that they would indeed be interested in doing so. Additionally, there are rumours that the club have also offered places to his children in the academy. For the first time in years, Getafe are finally in the news for all the right reasons.

Mohsen and his sons have enjoyed a hectic few days since arriving in Spain. They visited the Santiago Bernabeu and met Florentino Perez and will attend Real Madrid’s next home game against Granada. Getafe, meanwhile, are waiting for Mohsen to learn Spanish, and when he does they will sit down and see if there is a suitable position for him at the club.

On the pitch, Los Azulones enjoyed their first win of the season at the weekend and got out of the relegation zone. They may have suffered years of ridicule, but things are finally looking up for the club in the south of Madrid.

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