Fernandez swaps whistle for face-mask to combat coronavirus


Just like many countries across the globe, the coronavirus has been declared a disaster in Spain and Iragartze Fernandez, a semi-professional referee has swapped the whistle for a face-mask in an effort to assist fight the deadly virus.

Fernandez, who officiates matches in the top tier League of the Women’s game in Spain, La Liga Iberdrola, and Segunda B has been training as a nurse for five years at the Rekalde Health Centre in Bilbao.

The 26-year-old took the decision of working as a full-time nurse to give a helping hand during these trying times as more medical staff is needed to assist manage the big number of patients in hospitals.

All Football has been suspended in Spain until further notice with the country going into a lockdown, just like in SA.

“I’m not a superwoman or anything like that. “I’m just doing my bit, like everyone else,” Fernandez told AFP.

“When someone arrives with a cough and a fever, my job is to analyse their symptoms, while wearing full protective equipment.

“The risk of us transmitting the disease is high because we are constantly living next to it. That’s a very stressful experience because you’re always fighting against something you can’t see. You’re always playing at a disadvantage,” she added.

According to AFP, the latest figures on Thursday state that Spain has the second most deaths in the world, behind Italy with more than 4,000 lives taken by the virus.

“Maybe in football, we talk about it more but as a nurse, I have to take a lot of abuse as well from people who maybe don’t want to queue or who want to be examined first because they think their situation is more serious than the person next to them.” – Fernandez.

To show appreciation for the work of those in the health department, like Fernandez, every night at 8pm, Spain residents step out onto their balconies and applaud to salute health works for their hard work and bravery.

“All that applause every night, it’s incredible. I’ve been working in the same medical centre for two years and to be honest, no one has ever said thank you until now. It’s really heart-warming to see our work is being recognised,” admitted Fernandez.

Other match officials who are playing their part in the fight against coronavirus are Judit Romano and Elena Pelaez.

Romano, who is an assistant referee in Segunda, the second tier of men’s football is working as an anesthesiologist in the resuscitation department of Oviedo’s Central University Hospital of Asturias.

While Pelaez, a referee in La Liga Iberdrola, is working as a midwife at the Rio Carrion Hospital in Palencia.

The above tweet translation: Referees and sanitarians, in fight! Every weekend we see them in the fields of Second to Third Division passing through the Primera Iberdrola.

Fernandez said that she misses football as the game afforded her the distraction from working as a nurse.

“Playing sports is usually my escape. At work, we live with the coronavirus, we rub shoulders with it. I come home, I turn on the TV and now we only talk about that.

“The only thing to really disconnect is sport. It helps me forget everything,” she said. And she is looking forward to blowing the whistle to start her first game back.

“When I think about football in the little free time I have left, I miss it,” she said. “I miss matches, I miss the competition and of course most of all, refereeing. I miss all of it,” concluded the Spanish match official.

By FARPost Reporter 

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