La Liga is constantly expanding its footprint in India to bring Indian fans closer to the league. Sportskeeda spoke with Jose Antonio Cachaza, Managing Director of La Liga India, about tackling Covid-19 challenges, brand association, and organizing a friendly with La Liga teams in India.
How is La Liga tackling Covid-19 challenges?
La Liga was among the first top leagues in any sport to be back after the Covid-19 lockdown that stopped all sports competitions worldwide, second only to Bundesliga. So far, after being able to be back on track, the main challenge for this new season has been to keep the competition going while ensuring players, coaches, referees, and all other professionals around the game are safe.
For this, we have been working closely with Spain’s Ministries of Health and Sports to develop one of the most advanced and strict COVID protocols in the world. There are still fundamental challenges to deal with on how fans will be allowed back to the stadium.
What is La Liga’s India marketing and branding strategy?
Our main goal is to bring both La Liga and all our Clubs closer to Indian fans. We have four lines of work for the same:
1. Digital activation and engagement, on which we have been quite successful. Today, La Liga is the most followed international league on Facebook in India.
2. Ensuring complete and easy access to all La Liga match broadcasts, for which our landmark agreement with Facebook has been working in the right direction.
3. Getting closer to Indian fans through on-ground activations such as experiential match screenings, La Liga Football Schools India (LLFS) project, or even bringing Rohit Sharma on board as a La Liga brand ambassador. Such initiatives have helped us increase brand affinity towards La Liga in India.
4. Creating strategic alliances with Indian sports and governmental institutions, as well as extending support to Spanish institutions in India.
SK: Why did La Liga rope in Rohit Sharma instead of a footballer as the brand ambassador?
Our relationship with Rohit has been great. He is not just an amazing person but also a huge football fan. He has been following Spanish football for many years, and he is an avid Real Madrid fan. Therefore, when we were thinking about having a face in India who can increase La Liga awareness in India, bringing football closer to cricket fans, Rohit was the right choice.
SK: How are La Liga schools functioning amidst the pandemic?
La Liga Football Schools India, launched with our partner India on Track (IOT), is one of our dearest projects in India. Just the fact that we can bring the joy of training and playing to thousands of boys and girls striving to be better players across more than 10 Indian cities says it all. Of course, the COVID crisis has been a terrible setback since all on-ground training has stopped since March.
Thankfully, we were able to keep moving through an online training project that has been quite successful, even bringing in academy coaches of the three La Liga clubs that support some centres: Celta de Vigo, Real Betis, and Sevilla. There is some news of schools reopening in India soon, so hopefully by January 2021 we will have the kids running again on grass.
SK: Tell us about your recent partnerships.
The past six years have been crucial for the internationalisation of La Liga. In 2014, we had a title sponsor and three other sponsors. During those years all the negotiations were done exclusively with the Spain offices of the brands. Today, besides having Spain's largest bank, Santander, as the title sponsor, we have collaborated with 5 global sponsors, for which most of the negotiations were done directly with their HQ.
Furthermore, we have agreements with more than 20 national and regional sponsors. Talking about the case of India, in the last year, we signed two landmark agreements, first with BKT Tyres as our Global Sponsor, and with Dream 11, who as our Official Fantasy League in India can be defined as a regional sponsor.
We can say that 6 years ago La Liga spoke only in Spanish, while today we have learnt to speak in many languages to reach out to our fans and deliver to our partners. For this, our international structure has been critical with around 11 offices and 46 delegates across 44 countries.
SK: Will we see La Liga teams playing friendlies in India anytime soon?
We are working on this. To be honest, we are thinking of the 2021 pre-season period. But we are still at an early stage, this is quite a complex endeavour, and many pieces, both from our side and our Indian partners, need to fit in place.Published 12 Oct 2020, 15:51 IST