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Spain soccer team starts fund for evicted woman

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish soccer team opened a bank account Thursday to collect donations for an 85-year-old woman whose eviction last week from her Madrid apartment sparked an outcry, team officials said.

Rayo Vallecano president Raul Martin Presa said his club will also donate money from ticket sales from its next home game to help Carmen Martinez pay for a place to live.

She was evicted last Friday from the apartment she owned and lived in for decades in Madrid's working-class neighborhood of Vallecas, where Rayo plays in the Spanish league's first division.

Her son had used the apartment as collateral for a 40,000-euro ($50,000) loan and couldn't make payments after losing his job.

Associated Press photos of the eviction spurred intense Spanish media coverage of Martinez's plight and prompted the club to help her. Rayo is also based in the Vallecas neighborhood.

''Nobody likes these types of things - what happened to Carmen or to many other families, especially with evictions,'' Rayo coach Paco Jemez said.

Evictions have soared since Spain's economic crisis began in 2008. Last year's forced evictions totaled 2,060, while there were 1,547 during the first six months of 2014, statistics show.

Jemez said the team hasn't yet discussed its effort with Martinez, who couldn't be reached to comment and is believed to be staying with her son. If she ends up finding housing, Jemez said, the money gathered by the club will be given to another needy cause.

''The original idea was to help a woman who it seemed had been left with absolutely nothing,'' Jemez said. ''If some authority now offers her a decent place to live, the money will be redirected elsewhere.''

The case triggered criticism of Madrid*s city government for not finding a solution before the team made its offer last Sunday.

Madrid Mayor Ana Botella has said government-subsidized housing was offered to Martinez, but rejected because she hoped the eviction wouldn't happen, and that the offer is still valid.


Associated Press writers Alan Clendenning and Jorge Sainz in Madrid contributed to this report.