The growing viewership of La Liga in India is good news for Indian football as this is compelling Spain’s clubs to look at India’s clubs with more interest, feels Jose Antonio, the managing director of La Liga India.
“The Spanish clubs are looking at India with interest and we can hope that they find the right conditions to come and forge partnerships. I feel what the clubs in Europe look for is a larger connection with the Indian fans,” Antonio said in a recent interaction.
“There are a lot of Spanish players and managers in the Indian Super League and that is sending positive feedback to the La Liga clubs. Spanish clubs like Atletico Madrid are already in India and are working in partnership with Tata Football Academy. Another La Liga side Sevilla FC is tying up with Bengaluru FC,” he added.
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La Liga’s Indian head also said that a La Liga side could well be touring the country next year. “We are working to bring over La Liga teams in India. The conversation is on for some time and we hope to have a La Liga team, not one of the top two (Real Madrid and FC Barcelona), visiting India next year,” he said.
Cricket the reference point
Antonio said that the deep emotional connection of the fans with their favourite club’s colour is what creates the foundation of football and this factor will define the evolution of the sport in India. “India did not have a strong national league until recently. So far you had the club tradition running only in Kolkata with the names like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal and somewhat with Mohammedan Sporting. In India, cricket is the reference point for any sport and even there the club system is quite new,” Antonio said.
“This essentially means that you are still new in the trickle-down effect on building loyalties. And again the cricket league (IPL), which draws the largest audience, here is too short to develop a long lasting fan influence. So, it is still not the time to surmise whether these leagues will be growing into strong leagues,” he said while analysing the state of club football in India.
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