La Liga trying to get closer to India, says league president

According to Javier Tebas, La Liga is aiming to reach out to the passionate Indian football fans.

Efforts are being made to establish the La Liga brand in India, says Javier Tebas.   -  AP

 

India’s footballers may be far away from playing elite football in Spain, but La Liga is trying to reach out to the passionate Indian football fans, according to Javier Tebas, the league’s president.

“We are trying all possible angles to get closer to India,” Tebas, who is serving his second term as president, told Sportstar.

India became La Liga’s prime destination as it saw an “exponential” rise in the viewership after altering the match timings to suit the timings in Asia (especially India).

“According to the television data available with us there is a two-fold growth in the viewership in India compared to what we had with the original kick-off timings. In other words, we have a noticed an exponential growth around 300 percent in terms people viewing La Liga in India,” Tebas said.

Tebas explained the reason behind the initiative to internationalise La Liga. “Let me tell you we are about to outdo the official English Premier League page in Facebook in terms of followers. In the Arab world we are the most followed league on the social network. We are really surprised by the growth we have been witnessing all over the world,” he said.

READ: La Liga Genuine: A ground-breaking initiative

The specific reason to have India in the radar in a big way is the huge popularity of the sport in the country. Tebas outlined the various moves La Liga is making in India. “We have opened an office in India and we are organising match-viewing events where we had around 18,000 people watching the last El Clasico in New Delhi on December 23. Apart from that, we are reaching out to different schools to establish the La Liga brand and now we are planning have Indian teams to come and play in Spain.”

“In the social media, we have employed people who are promoting the La Liga in Hindi. And we have been in talks with the Indian football federation and are trying to sign an agreement. We have already organised some events with them and have also involved some Indian clubs,” he added.

Imbalance ‘damaging’ for football

Tebas, discussing Neymar Jr.’s controversial transfer, was specific about the need of a more proactive stance from the European body, the UEFA, in ensuring a balance in the transfers. Neymar, formely a FC Barcelona player, switched sides to Paris Saint Germain in a record EUR 222 million amount.“People who govern football in Europe, the UEFA, should show the will to do something about it. It will be easier for us then to control the situation. Then only you can prevent such clubs with the backing of huge wealth of a country or a region in jeopardising and putting into risk the football industry. That imbalance is greatly damaging for the sport,” Tebas said.

Tebas was keen to ‘internationalise’ the league. “Our main objective is to internationalise the La Liga and make everyone believe that that there is more to it than only (FC) Barcelona, Real Madrid or Aletico Madrid. For that, we are helping out other clubs in digitalising themselves and be more visible worldwide. In fact, we have different approaches for different teams based on their requirements,” he said.

The La Liga has made rapid strides in this direction, Tebas felt. “Football is a global activity and we want our league to reach every corner of the world. But that should not be restricted to TV signals or to the Internet as we want reach everywhere physically. We have been enhancing our workforce to that effect. For example, we have a coach in Solomon Islands where he is helping out their national federation and we have a tie-up with the Botswana league. This way we are trying to reach to all parts of the world,” he said.

(Amitabha Das Sharma had been to Barcelona on an invitation from La Liga)

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