LaLiga’s representative told Doha News that whilst it’s hard losing great players, the league’s present and future will continue to thrive.
With the 2022/2023 LaLiga season kicking off, the Spanish league revealed that several activations will be initiated in Qatar just before the start of the football extravaganza.
In an exclusive interview with Doha News, LaLiga’s representative in Qatar, Alvaro Paya, announced that an entirely new Spanish-themed lounge will be opening within the Gulf country promising to provide a surreal venture to fans.
The lounge is said to be a reimagined concept that will be immersive in technology, combing Spanish finger food with the sports watching experience.
“The idea is to have a 24/7 sports entertainment centre not only for football battles but for any sports. This venue will be the meeting point when it comes to sports for people living in Qatar,” Paya said.
The location and name of the lounge are yet to be disclosed, however, LaLiga expects its venue to be unlike other lounges within the country and even the GCC region.
“It’s going to be super different from what see as sports bars; it’s more about the experience than just watching sports,” Paya added.
The representative described the lounge “as a place where you take out your phone and take a picture, that’s what you’re going to do.”
Previously, La Liga launched a lounge at Hotel Park Doha, which was dubbed ‘unique’ as it featured a tailored service for football league fans.
Having opened in 2017, the world’s first LaLiga Lounge is no longer operating. It was shut down a year ago for unspecified reasons.
The Spanish league anticipates holding a solid presence during the World Cup, with millions of football fanatics worldwide expected to flock to the Gulf state for the biggest sporting event on the globe.
Increase in global presence
Earlier this month, LaLiga’s Qatar representative revealed highlights of the new season at an event titled, “What Happens in LaLiga stays with you.”
Speaking to local media in Doha, Paya celebrated the countdown for the first-ever Middle East World Cup.
“I am happy to be in Qatar during a period that is witnessing the final preparations for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, which will undoubtedly be an exceptional tournament.”
Qatar’s Winter World Cup has affected several football league schedules, including the Spanish sides, who will break their season on November 9th and resume the fixture at the end of the year.
This LaLiga season is one of the most highly-anticipated campaigns for fans as Real Madrid will be looking to prove their dominance once again.
To expand their content this year, LaLiga has augmented their partnership with the beIN MEDIA GROUP, boosting their viewership across all 24 countries of the MENA region.
LaLiga has been in partnership with beIN since 2006, aiming to continue its international growth and compete with the English Premier League.
The numbers back up the excitement from fans as Paya disclosed that 160 million fans worldwide tuned in to the league’s content in 20 languages across 17 platforms during the Qatar-based event.
At the exclusive event in Qatar, Paya also addressed the loss in Spanish football due to losing generational superstars to their competitive counterparts.
Last season, Lionel Messi left in a shocking move to Qatar’s Paris Saint-Germain, ending the Argentina legend’s 20-year reign with Barcelona.
The departure of players such as Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi affects many things beyond the Spanish pitches, including but not limited to ticket sales, television viewership, jersey sales and sponsorships.
The old adage of football being ‘just a beautiful game’ is contended here, showing it to be in fact a multi-billion-dollar industry with stars are being bargained for in the market.
Paya told Doha News that whilst it’s hard losing great players, the league’s present and future will continue to thrive.
“It’s a great challenge, but we believe we are on the right way as the clubs there do understand what we want from them,” said Paya.
More money no problems?
Last year, LaLiga struck a 3.2 billion dollar deal with CVC Capital Partners. The private equity will hold a 10% stake in the Spanish league as it safeguards revenue for the clubs.
The COVID-19 pandemic and costly signing of players placed the league at risk, dragging LaLiga’s revenue down 8% in the 2019/2020 season.
This investment will allow the Spanish league to continue to augment their clubs and prevent notable players like Messi from breaking away from their teams for financial reasons.
The talents of Benzema, Luka Modric and Robert Lewandowski filled in the league’s marketable players. A talent like Messi may never be found again.
Still, rising talents like Spanish footballers Pedri and Erling Haaland are captivating the eyes of younger audiences which the league is currently working on harnessing.
Investing in the Middle East, North Africa and India
In September 2022, LaLiga signed a 15-year agreement with the Dubai-based company Galaxy Racer.
The agreement is expected to bring forth an estimated 2.9 billion in revenue, improving engagement with fans in the region and targeting audiences of youth under 30.
To seize the attention of younger viewers, a personalised app will be released soon, allowing fans to interact and be enterained by exclusive content from their favourite clubs and players.
The app will showcase highlights from matches, player statistics and even stadium details.
The all-in-one application will also attempt to combat piracy in the region as millions of fans opt out of the hefty subscription prices and watch matches through third-party applications.
Several anti-piracy campaigns have been established by the Spanish league. A 2018 campaign titled “When piracy appears, football disappears” drove to educate fans about the damage caused by illegal viewership.
“It is extremely difficult to control it; there are some websites and platforms that go beyond our control,” said Paya, when speaking about the fight against piracy.
“In the Middle East region, it’s high. For the younger audiences, it’s hard to show and explain to them why they have to be on our team and not that team, the hacker team.”
The LaLiga representative told Doha News that the league is working closely with beIN to defy piracy groups. 24-7 in-house anti-piracy services have been based in the company’s offices to protect the rights of the league.
Paya further addressed the costly prices of LaLiga’s subscription and stated that there could be flexibility in audiences living in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region.
LaLiga is set to invest in Qatar and the regions surrounding it for the long run with the first-ever Middle East World Cup being a starting point, attracting many opportunities for the league.