Saturday’s La Liga derby clash between Athletic Bilbao and Eibar was halted by an unexpected incident at San Mames as a drone flew onto the pitch.
The UAV landed on the pitch in the 68th minute of the 1-1 draw, and forced referee Pizarro Gomez to pause play while the object was removed.
No harm was done to any players of either team, and the match was still able to go ahead. But it was later reported that the drone contained an orange banner protesting against Euro 2020 fixtures being hosted at the ground in the summer.
Photos here of the drone (apparently carrying a banner against Bilbao hosting Euro 2020 games) that fell onto the pitch at San Mamés during Athletic-Eibar just now https://t.co/hPu9cNcyq1
— The Spanish Football Podcast (@tsf_podcast) March 20, 2021
You could be mistaken into thinking the action was taken by those that don’t want an international tournament to be held in Bilbao during a global pandemic. And while many have lamented the fact that supporters won’t be able to attend games, the real motives behind are perhaps more complex.
All three of Spain’s group matches are set to be contested in the city, but separatist groups and some other figures do not want the national team to step foot on Basque soil for the first time since 1967.
“Not sure why they’re getting arsey about hosting games, it’s being staged in multiple countries. They could have used it to promote Euskadi culture,” remarked one Spanish football fan on Twitter, while another dubbed it “The Attack of the Drones”.
However as in Catalonia, relations between those in the autonomous region and the mainland are often frosty, with the now-dissolved ETA separatist group originally blamed for the 2004 Madrid bombings later credited to Islamic fundamentalists.