The growing viewership of Spain’s top league, La Liga, in India is good news for the country’s football. It has induced the European nation’s clubs to look at the latter with more interest, according to Jose Antonio, the managing director of LaLiga 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,” said Antonio 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 LaLiga clubs. Spanish clubs like Atletico Madrid are already in India and are working in partnership with Tata Football Academy. Another LaLiga side Sevilla FC is tying up with Bengaluru FC,” he added.
The Indian head also said that a LaLiga side could well be touring the country next year. “We are working to bring over LaLiga teams in India. The conversation is on for some time and we hope to have a LaLiga team, not one of the top two (Real Madrid and FC Barcelona), visiting India next year,” he said.
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 be defining the evolution of the sport in India.
No strong national league
“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 analyzing the state of club football in India .