Spanish clubs not coming to India in near future: La Liga India head

Jose Cachaza, the La Liga India head, confirmed that the league has no plans of holding pre-season exhibition matches in India in the near future.

Matches may not be happening here at the moment, but La Liga is serious about ramping up its promotional drive on other fronts such as fan engagements, TV screening of matches and social media.   -  Getty Images

India is not in La Liga’s immediate scheme of things as far Spanish clubs playing pre-season or exhibition matches in the near future are concerned, the league’s country head Jose Cachaza said, contrary to the speculations doing the rounds. Cachaza confirmed that the league has no plans of holding pre-season exhibition matches in India in the near future.

“Playing matches in India in future, definitely yes, but I cannot give a date, cannot promise that the upcoming pre-season will be here,” Cachaza told.

He, though, called India a strategic country for La Liga. La Liga is one of the world’s top football leagues that has the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez in its ranks.

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“As far as La Liga’s promotional activities are concerned, you can compare India with China because (like India) we have office in China, but not with countries like Australia as they are not our strategic partners,” he said.

Australia, though, hosted Spanish clubs, such as Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, in exhibition matches in recent times. Matches may not be happening here at the moment, but La Liga is serious about ramping up its promotional drive on other fronts, such as fan engagements, TV screening of matches and social media.

“We had 300, 000 followers two years back and now we are close to two million fans on Facebook. This shows Indian fans have an eye on La Liga,” he added.

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On a promotional tour of India, former Spain and Valencia midfielder Gaizka Mendieta said that more matches on the lines of 2017’s El Clasico, which were scheduled at a time suitable for Indian audience, could be held in coming times.

Talking about the increasing popularity of La Liga among Indian fans, Mendieta said: “Like we had the Clasico last year starting at a time suiting Indian viewers (5.30pm IST), there may be such matches again in the future because the Indian market matters. Already, La Liga has reached a following of over 37 million across the globe. It is really very important to connect to Indian fans. The fan base of La Liga in India is growing.”

The El Clasico public viewing in Delhi in December 2016 had over 15,000 fans - the largest in Asia. The midfield maestro won many accolades in a career, spanning 17 years. His career took off when he played for Valencia from 1993 to 2001. The two-time European midfielder of the year won the 1999 Copa del Rey and Spanish Super Cup. He was a part of Valencia side that reached the Champions League final, two consecutive times in 2000 and 2001.