Iribar: “We’re still playing the game when it comes to Basque”
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Iribar: “We’re still playing the game when it comes to Basque”

The festival screened the documentary “Futbola eta euskara” and the Athletic legend spoke to Ainhoa Tirapu, Jon Maia and Patxi Gaztelumendi on the third day of Thinking, Letters and Football

Iribar: “We’re still playing the game when it comes to Basque”
Iribar: “We’re still playing the game when it comes to Basque”
Nov 12, 2021

Jose Angel “El Txopo” Iribar played a starring role on the third day of the Athletic Club Foundation’s Thinking, Letters and Football festival. Iribar recalled the origins of the documentary “Futbola eta euskera” (Football and Basque) as he was accompanied on stage by another legendary goalkeeper, Ainhoa Tirapu, and bertsolari (Basque poet) Jon Maia.

El Txopo dedicated the takings from his testimonial -a match between Athletic Club and Real Sociedad on May 30, 1980- to the promotion of the Basque language. Among other initiatives, thanks to Iribar’s contribution, film director Antxon Ezeiza was able to make the short films ‘Mendia eta euskara’ (Mountains and Basque), ‘Arrauna eta euskara’ (Rowing and Basque) and ‘Futbola eta euskara’ (Football and Basque). More than forty years later, the festival screened the latter.

On the day of his testimonial, Iribar jumped into the centre of the San Mamés pitch and, microphone in hand, announced: “The winner of today’s match is the Basque language.” When host Patxi Gaztelumendi asked him about that moment, Iribar acknowledged that “we are still playing the game when it comes to the Basque language”, referring to all that remains to be done for Basque to reach all areas of society.

In the same vein, Jon Maia reiterated that a great deal of progress has been made over the last 40 years, but also warned there “is still a lot to be done”. Ainhoa Tirapu drew attention to the impact social networks have on the Basque language, warning people may lose the courage to communicate in Basque for fear of making a mistake. She stressed that footballers have to feel protected when speaking Basque, otherwise the language might not make progress on social media.

Jon Maia praised the work Iribar and Tirapu do in promoting Basque, stating the language has always had a problem with prestige and emphasised the importance of footballers speaking Basque in public.

In reference to the fear people who are not fluent in Basque may have when it comes to expressing themselves in the language, Maia said there is no Basque more beautiful than that of a person learning Basque, because, even with all it faults, the future of the language lies there, in that effort.

On Friday night, the main events are screenings of the short film “Letters to Socrates” and the documentary “We are the Red Star”. The festival has passed the halfway point and the fourth day is all about these two interesting documentaries.

First up, we have the short film ‘Letter to Socrates’ by the Brazilian film director Pedro Asbeg. This will be followed by the French documentary ‘We are the Red Star’, which tells the story of the historic Parisian team.

The president of Red Star, Patrice Haddad, will take part in a post-screening discussion with film’s directors, Christian Paureihe and Monica Regàs. Founded in 1897 by Jules Rimet, Red Star -a  historic rival of Athletic Club- is closely linked to workers’ movements in the French capital.

The event will take place at San Mames BAT (Entrance via Gate 12) at 19:00 CET. Admission is free with pre-booked tickets which can be found HERE.

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