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Rayo Vallecano: 'Beautiful gesture' from 'guardian angel' towards homeless

updated 6:53 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
From January to June of 2014, 1,218 evictions have taken place in Spain -- an increase of 17% from the previous year.
From January to June of 2014, 1,218 evictions have taken place in Spain -- an increase of 17% from the previous year.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rayo Vallecano to help find new apartment for 85-year-old
  • La Liga club moved to help following eviction
  • Carmen Martinez Ayuso had lived in the apartment for 50 years
  • Statistics show that 1,218 evictions took place between January and June 2014

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(CNN) -- Over the past five years evictions have become a symbol of Spain's economic crisis, but the latest homeowner to face the prospect of homelessness -- an 85-year-old woman -- has found an unlikely guardian angel.

One of the poorest football teams in Spain's top division, Madrid club Rayo Vallecano, has promised to help Carmen Martinez Ayuso find a new apartment after she was evicted by her landlord.

From the Vallecas district of the Spanish capital, Ayuso had lived in the apartment for half a century but couldn't pay the rent after her son had used her home as collateral on a loan he was then unable to repay.

According to statistics published by the Bank of Spain, 1,218 evictions took place between January and June 2014 -- an increase of 17% from the same period in the previous year.

Back in 2012 it's estimated that there were up to 200 evictions a day as Spain suffered the consequences of a housing bubble that burst after the housing market crashed in 2007-2008, while unemployment also soared.

Ayuso's story grabbed the attention of the club with fans holding aloft a banner which read "Rayo against evictions" in a recent league match.

Demonstrators shout slogans at Neptuno Square during a march made by thousands of people on Saturday, February 23 in Madrid. Demonstrators shout slogans at Neptuno Square during a march made by thousands of people on Saturday, February 23 in Madrid.
Madrid at the center of protests
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Madrid at the center of protests Madrid at the center of protests
Spain home evictions draw protests
Spanish fight to keep their homes

"I know that there are lots of cases like hers," Rayo coach Paco Jemez told reporters.

"The worst thing that can happen to a family is when they evict you from your home," added Jemez.

"This is a lady who lived in her home for 50 years and due to her doing an honorable act -- being the guarantor of her son, which everyone in the world would undoubtedly do."

Jemez has been in touch with Ayuso, who according to Spanish media, was unaware of the $50,000 loan her son had taken out.

He promised it wasn't just him that would try and help Ayuso, but that the "the coaching staff, the players, the club" would also become involved.

Jemez added: "Within our ability, we will help this lady and give her a hand so that she finds a place to live with dignity and so she doesn't feel alone.

"I'm very proud we can lend her a hand. I'd like to help more people, but that's impossible.

"What is within our power, we will do. Also, we will start an initiative so that anyone who wants to help will have the ability to lend a hand. We are very sensitive to this and what happened to her could happen to anyone."

Rayo has an annual budget of around $8.6 million -- a total which is incomparable to that of its big city neighbor Real Madrid which has a cool $720 million at its disposal.

Speaking to Spanish newspaper Marca, Ayuso praised the club for the "beautiful gesture."

She added: "A thousand times thank you, God bless them," she said. "It's a beautiful gesture that they didn't need to do and Viva el Rayo!

"If I see [Paco Jemez] I'll give him 40 kisses. But the only time I've seen him was during the neighborhood fairs.

"We always supported Rayo in this family. I remember when we used to go to the swimming pools, which were right next to the stadium. But now we have different motivations to support them.

"I'm certain my husband is showing his gratitude in heaven."

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