Barcelona's Lionel Messi in action with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo. Photo: Reuters

Kids sign up to become members of football clubs before they can even walk. People risk missing a wedding to watch a game, and a blind man goes to the stadium to feel the game rather than watch.

So what more does LaLiga want as they recruit across the globe to reposition the image of the Spanish first division?

“Real Madrid and Barcelona already have an internationalisation focus, but the other clubs in LaLiga don’t,” says Joris Evers, chief of communications. “And that is where we come in. We want to go further. I was speaking to an official from Real Sociedad the other day about all of this and he was pretty happy that they enjoy a good following in Spain. But the club has a shirt sponsor from China. We need to tap into that more.”

While it is obvious in Spain itself that Real Madrid and Barcelona aren’t the only two teams - and Cristiano Ronaldo and his nemesis Lionel Messi not the only stars of the show, the world is still struggling with that concept.

LaLiga, with 20 teams in the first division, 182 broadcasts in 90 countries and a total of over 14-million in attendance at stadiums, has then decided to re-brand.

They’ve built new offices - the old ones don’t reflect the new vibrant young team trying to woo several cultures to “pick a Spanish team” because it feels as old as it looks having been erected in 1984, same time as when LaLiga was founded.

“Our team is incredibly diverse - I don’t have a football background necessarily because I used to work for Netflix. We have someone who used to be at Nike and someone who used to work for Facebook. So we want to be more than just about football,” Evers explains. “Of course we understand that people know Real and Barcelona, but it isn’t like that here in Spain, and that is what we want to take to the rest of the world.”

The central offices here in Madrid have also now birthed a few more around the world - South Africa (Johannesburg), Nigeria (Lagos), USA (New York), Dubai, Singapore, India (Delhi) and China (Beijing and Shanghai). As many as 44 LaLiga delegates are also scattered around the world to try and pull in the same direction.

Are Spanish clubs buying into this?

“It’s not all going to happen in one night. For a long time clubs were happy to only get packed stadiums, and their finances were a bit dire, but they can see that it is important to take their brand globally. We have helped with that.”

* Mazola Molefe is a guest of LaLiga in Spain ahead of Saturday’s El Classico between Real Madrid and Barcelona

Pretoria News

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