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Football fan excused from election duties

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Football fan excused from election duties
As the banners on Madrid's town hall demonstrate, many Spaniards are more passionate about the forthcoming European cup final than the European elections. GERARD JULIEN / AFP
14:58 CEST+02:00
A 43-year old Atlético Madrid supporter has kicked politics into touch by successfully using the European Declaration of Human Rights to dodge electoral duty and attend the Champions League final instead.

José Antonio Hernáez was delighted to receive two tickets to watch his team play in the final of the world's top club football competition, the UEFA Champions League.

"The Mattress Makers", as the club is known due to the red-and-white stripes of its strip, are due to face off against local rivals Real Madrid in Lisbon, Portugal, on May 24th.

As a season ticket holder, he had already watched in ecstasy as his side triumphed over Barcelona to lift the domestic La Liga trophy last weekend.

But his happiness was cut short by the arrival of a letter informing him that he had been chosen to perform the civic duty of working at a local polling station on the following day.

Like many Spaniards, Hernáez was more interested in the European contests of his chosen sport than in the forthcoming European Parliamentary elections at which he was to assist.

He wrote to Spain's Electoral Board and cited both article 13 of the European Declaration of Human Rights and the Schengen Agreement to assert his right to travel to Lisbon for the match.

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In the letter he pointed out that as he had been only three-years-old the last time Atlético played in a European Cup final, a defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich in Brussels in 1974, this would be his first ever chance to attend such a match.

He also noted the logistical difficulties of getting home in time, according to Spanish daily El Mundo.

As the final whistle of the final is not scheduled to be blown until 11.30pm, he pointed out that the soonest he could be in Madrid would be 7am the following day, but that any unforeseen travel delay would make it impossible for him to make it to the polling station in time.

Fortunately for the football-mad Hernáez, the board agreed with him and released him from his responsibilities.

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