La Liga aiming ‘loyal fanbase’ in country

Mumbai: Inarguably, La Liga has a worldwide fanbase, and Jose Antonio Cachaza, Managing Director, La Liga India knows the importance of having a loyal market in a country that loves to don the jerseys of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi – regardless the occassion.

Traditionally, India has been a huge market for the English Premier League, and La Liga, is vying for share of its own. Presence of star players has helped it grab the imagination of Indian football fans, but to penetrate the Indian market further, La Liga’s top representative in the country said the priority now is to create loyal fanbases for the clubs with rich legacies.

When asked about how La Liga plans on making the quality on display in Spain more accessible to Indian masses, Cachaza said there’s no other platform bigger than Facebook.

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“In case of India, it’s very special for La Liga. As you know the broadcast of our matches is done through Facebook for free so we can reach as many people as we can. So this is Step One. Next step is to try and use that platform to increase our market share,” he said.

La Liga has been a hotbed for football talents from across the world, and, is confident that though star players like Messi, Ronaldo — who are in the twilight of their career — the league will keep producing stars of such caliber in the future and their absence will have no impact on its fan following in India.

“When we roll back in perspective few years down the road, we recognise that what happened in last ten years – having two players (Ronaldo, Messi) of such level at top playing in same league – has rarely happened before in any sport. The only instance I can remember being similar was back in the day when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were playing in the NBA,” Cachaza remarked.

“Players’ signings are done by clubs and not by the league, my job is to help all 20 clubs grow their business and help them grab eyeballs in India,

And the nature of the sport is such that players’ careers are short and they come and go. In Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, we have biggest clubs in the world so naturally they will keep attracting the best players, we are confident we will still possess the future Ronaldo’s and Messi’s as we have some of the elite clubs who are financially strong,” he added.

While speaking on the sidelines at the launch of The Legends Cup, which is India’s largest Corporate football tournament, Cachaza lauded the decision to merge I-league with ISL, and latter being India’s premier football league.

“This agreement done through AIFF, AFC and Indian football in general was necessary and I am happy that the step was finally taken. It makes no sense to have two prime leagues competing simultaneously in one country,” he said.

“We have always been clear that we consider ISL as the top league in the country. They have invested heavily to grow football from the grassroots and La Liga has a great relationship with the management and several teams,” Cachaza added.

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