The COVID-19 pandemic could affect La Liga's expansion plans in India, the league's in-charge of the vibrant Asian market said on Thursday, as the Spanish football behemoth desperately looks to steer clear of a jaw-dropping Rs 80,000 crore loss. If the season is not completed, the organisation will face a loss amounting to Rs 80,000 crore.
The La Liga clubs returned to training this week after the Spanish government gave permission following weeks of strict coronavirus-enforced lockdown in the country that has witnessed thousands of fatalities due to the pandemic. La Liga is involved in a range of activities in India, one of its strategic partners, including running soccer schools.
When asked during a video conference how the pandemic is going to affect its expansion plans in Asia, Jose Antonio Cachaza, Managing Director, LaLiga India, said there is a likelihood of a slowdown. "We know Asia is one of the top markets of us and India is our strategic market. I should say that maybe things can get slowed down because we are going to face an economic crisis worldwide," Cachaza said from Madrid.
"Regarding the impact, we may not know right now, but we are still one of the biggest brands in the world." La Liga, the organising body for Spain's top two football divisions, contributed USD 17.9 billion to the country's economy during the 2016/17 season, according to a study by consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Jose Antonio Cachaza, Managing Director, LaLiga India ( Source: The Economic Times)
According to Cachaza, it contributes 1.4 percent to Spain's GDP. "LaLiga contributes 1.4 percent to Spain's GDP. With this pandemic, there were two challenges for us - one is to combat the health crisis and another is to combat the economic crisis. "In case of football in Spain, the impact of the league not returning this season would be Rs 80000 crore," he said. The team's training sessions began under a set of new protocols devised for the safety of players amid the ongoing crisis which has wreaked havoc across the world. "We are expecting positive cases when the it resumes and we are prepared for that."
In India, the LaLiga Football Schools are providing e-training to kids during the lockdown. LaLiga along with India On Track is organising 60 sessions a week and so far over 1500 kids have already attended the programme from eight cities across India. This initiative is part of the global project taken up by LaLiga Sports Projects Department called LaLiga at Home. LaLiga coaches are communicating digitally with the students via various training modules which includes physical, mental and skill development.
The programme has been further expanded to include children who may not be enrolled in the on-ground centres and has made training available to any interested students aged between 5-18 years. These children can attend a free trial session, and participate in a group or individual session with international coaches, for a small fee.
"As people all over the globe pledged to fight the pandemic, LaLiga is committed to contributing towards the society through its various initiatives during an unprecedented period of difficulty and uncertainty," said Cachaza.
"In India, we are communicating digitally with our students at Laliga Football schools that have seen more than 1500 students so far who are being upskilled via various training modules that aim to bring the passion for the sport into their homes during such difficult times. We hope that these initiatives help us engage and expand our fan base to a much larger and diverse audience and help us spread the joy of football."