Bilbao break silence by honouring Carrasco

Before every La Liga game last Sunday, a minuteâÂÂs silence was held in memory of Isaías Carrasco, the PSOE councillor from Mondragón who was shot three times and killed by ETA as the Basque terrorist group sought to disrupt the run-in to the Spanish general elections.
The silence was impeccably observed everywhere. Everywhere, that is, except for two places: OsasunaâÂÂs Reyno de Navarra stadium, where they instead opted (as is the clubâÂÂs tradition) for applause, and Athletic BilbaoâÂÂs San Mamés, where the response of some radical fans turned a minuteâÂÂs silence into sixteen seconds of quiet punctured with shouts and abuse.
The failure to complete a minuteâÂÂs silence at San Mamés has inevitably brought criticism of a club that has often been seen - and seen itself - as the footballing expression of Basque nationalism. It has been attacked as another example of the institution being tacit, implicit supporters of ETA.
And yet there is another way of looking at it.
Athletic have long-since claimed that it is their policy not to hold a minuteâÂÂs silence for anyone. The claim is not quite true --  in 1978 there was a minuteâÂÂs silence for the etarra José Miguel Beñarán and in 1984 Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao together carried a Basque flag onto the pitch after the assassination of the leader of the Basque separatist party Herri Batasuna, Santiago Brourard.

But it is a policy which has remained fast for a long time now, even going so far as to ignore people who would be impeccably honoured by everyone, those with an important place in the clubâÂÂs history.  

Like OsasunaâÂÂs decision to use applause rather than silence -- based, some critics insist, on the realisation that if they opted for silence for victims of terrorism at a ground where many fans consider themselves Basque nationalists, the silence would inevitably be broken -- the decision was in many ways a pragmatic one, and a political one too.

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