UPDATE: Athletic Club de Bilbao Loses Soccer Match; Reschedules Basque Soccer Friendly for July 18 

UPDATE: June 1, 2015

Officials announced Monday morning that they would need to reschedule the Basque Soccer Friendly, scheduled for Albertsons Stadium on the campus of Boise State University to Saturday, July 18 at 7 p.m.

Club de Bilbao, who will compete in Boise, is now scheduled to play Europa League Qualifying matches on July 30th and August 6th. Bilbao will be facing Club Tijuana at the Basque Soccer Friendly.

Boise organizers said those who had already purchased tickets for July 29, the event's original date, will not need to exchange tickets; they're still valid for the July 18th date. For those wishing a refund, organizers will be contacting all ticketholders via email about details of the refund process. Those wishing refunds are being encouraged to complete the refund process before June 19th so that the Basque Soccer Friendly has the opportunity to resell those seats.

click to enlarge 19701_1553568681562754_6733626963135257778_n.jpg
The Copa del Rey soccer match between Athletic Club del Bilbao and FC Barcelona was particularly high-stakes for Boise soccer lovers. The game, played in Barcelona, was broadcast throughout several bars on the afternoon of May 30, including Parilla, Leku Ona and the Basque Center. 

"The Basque Center was packed," said soccer fan Johnnie Naylor. "They even got a new TV for it. It was definitely the right place to watch the game in town."

The outcome of the game would determine the date of the inaugural Basque Soccer Friendly, to be played at Albertson Stadium. Originally set for July 29, in conjunction with Jaialdi 2015 (July 28-Aug. 2), Athletic Club de Bilbao—from the Basque Country of Spain—would go up against Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente—from Baja California, Mexico. If Bilbao won, the game in Boise would remain on July 29. If the team lost, the game would need to rescheduled for the weekend of July 18.

Athletic Club de Bilbao lost 3-1, meaning the team needs to play in another qualifier game on July 30 in Europe, making the July 29 date impossible.

"Even though the team was losing, we cheered for something every chance we got," Naylor said.

The lost game kicks off a somewhat logistical nightmare for the organizers of the Basque Soccer Friendly. 
click to enlarge The Basque Soccer Friendly retail space offers soccer swag and merch for both teams. - JESSICA MURRI
  • Jessica Murri
  • The Basque Soccer Friendly retail space offers soccer swag and merch for both teams.
On May 29, Boise Weekly explored the new Basque Soccer Friendly retail space set up at 401 S. Eighth St. in the heart of BoDo, and caught up with soccer match organizer Argia Beristain

"There are so many reasons why I want them to win," Beristain said the day before the game. 

She said many people from out of town have already paid their air fares, reserved hotels and purchased tickets for the match on July 29. Those tickets should still be valid for the new date, but the proper refund policy will be released in early June.

The date change also causes a hassle with the sod instillation company, which needs to pull the sod being grown at the Cloverdale Nursery to cover the blue turf of Albertson Stadium. The company has another match it's preparing sod for on the weekend of July 18.

"That means they'll have to install sod elsewhere, then come here, install the sod here, then go back to the other city to take out the sod, then come back here to remove our sod as well," Beristain said on Friday.

Another downside: the sod was planned to be transplanted into Ann Morrison Park, where the soccer fields need to be redone anyway. But Beristain said the field in the park might not be ready for the new sod by then, so that plan might fall through.

On the other side of the world, one Boisean got to watch the game a lot closer. Lindsay Woychick moved to Bilbao, Spain in September 2014. Though the game was played in Barcelona, Woychick said the streets of Bilbao were packed with people—putting any Broncos game in Boise to shame.

click to enlarge Woychick snapped a photo of the crowds on the streets of Bilbao, Spain during the Copa del Rey soccer match on May 30. - LINDSAY WOYCHICK
  • Lindsay Woychick
  • Woychick snapped a photo of the crowds on the streets of Bilbao, Spain during the Copa del Rey soccer match on May 30.
"It was body-to-body," she said. "Lots of energy and hope, but Barcelona is a really hard team to beat."

Woychick called the Bilbao fans die-hard. The metro trains filled with chants in support of the team and every storefront boasted red and white flags.

The game started out with a lot of energy, Woychick said, but by the second goal Barcelona scored, the momentum dropped. The score was 3-0 until Bilbao scored a goal and again picked up the energy. 

"People here were excited and hoping to pull a win, but the game was pretty clear," she said. "The way they did the planning [for the Basque Soccer Friendly], how could you plan that Athletic would beat Barcelona? They're the No. 1 team in the world. ... It was sad after they lost. People were still in the streets, but the bar cleared out fast."

Woychick said she doesn't think it's a very big deal for those traveling from the Basque Country to see the match during Jaialdi. 

"Anyone here can see Bilbao anytime," she said. "I think it's cooler for people in Boise to get to experience."
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