AP NEWS

Getafe don’t need ‘hot zombies’ to attract fans this season

May 9, 2019
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Getafe's Bruno Gonzalez, right, attempts a shot during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Getafe and Real Madrid at the Alfonso Perez stadium in Getafe, Spain, Thursday, April 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

MADRID (AP) — A few years ago, Getafe released a tongue-in-cheek advertising campaign to try to increase one of the smallest fanbases in the Spanish league.

The idea was to encourage supporters to donate sperm and breed more fans for the club, and for inspiration it produced a short Getafe-themed adult movie.

The plot involved “strange events” that transformed some female supporters into what it called the “Hot Zombies of Getafe.”

The club used the online publicity stunt as a way to invite fans to enroll as members, saying that by “being more, we’ll be bigger.”

It’s not clear if the X-rated campaign in the early 2010s directly led to an increase in membership, or just made the club notorious.

This year, though, the back-to-modest club from south Madrid is attracting fans by a much more traditional approach: Playing good soccer.

Getafe is enjoying its best season ever in the Spanish league and is on the verge of securing a Champions League spot for the first time in its 36-year history. It has been stealing headlines from powerhouses Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid because of what it’s doing on the field, not off of it.

Getafe enters the second-to-last round in the fourth — and final — Champions League place, holding on to a three-point advantage over Sevilla and Valencia. A draw this weekend in its visit to champion Barcelona, which is expected to rest its regular starters after the loss to Liverpool in the semifinals of the Champions League, coupled with losses by Sevilla and Valencia, will be enough for Getafe to secure the berth. Sevilla has a difficult match at second-placed Atletico Madrid, while Valencia hosts Alaves.

Getafe has already clinched a Europa League spot, a feat it hasn’t achieved since 2010.

“It was unthinkable that Getafe would be fighting for a spot in the European competitions,” coach Jose Bordalas said after a 2-0 win at Girona on Sunday. “We have to enjoy it. It’s something historic, fantastic. Everyone knew that our goal in the beginning of the season was just to avoid relegation.”

Bordalas can be directly linked to the team’s rapid rise to glory, as he took over Getafe in the relegation zone of the second division early in the 2016-17 season.

The 55-year-old manager immediately revamped the club and led it back to the first division, where it finished eighth last season as one of the league’s sensations. Its best finish is sixth, in 2010.

Getafe, which has one of the league’s smallest budgets, got off to a slow start this season but gradually climbed, and has stayed in the top six since the league’s halfway point. It has held to fourth place for 11 of the last 12 rounds, thanks to results that included a 3-0 rout of Sevilla and a 0-0 draw against Real Madrid, both at the team’s 17,000-capacity Coliseum Alfonso Perez stadium.

The team has been led by players such as defender Dakonam Djene, touted as a top transfer prospect, and goalkeeper David Soria, who used to thrive with Sevilla. They are part of a defensive system that has conceded only 31 goals in 36 matches, second only to Atletico Madrid’s. The attack has veteran Jorge Molina, Angel Rodriguez, and Jaime Mata, who recently was called up by Spain.

Getafe was founded in 1983 and it first made it to the first division in 2004. It entered the spotlight of Spanish football for the first time in 2007, when it reached the first of two consecutive Copa del Rey finals — losses to Sevilla and Valencia.

Now it has two matches — at Barcelona and against relegation-threatened Villarreal at home in the last round — to earn its biggest achievement since then.

“We will remain ambitious,” Bordalas said. “We got here through our own merits, now we want to finish the job.”

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