La Liga officially opened its fourth office in Singapore last week, and I was truly honoured to host the day’s festivities – which included the press conference, NGO activation (on the football fields) and cocktail party.
Almost the entire football community and important dignitaries was invited to the session, held at National Gallery’s Supreme Court Terrace on March 23.
It was absolutely surreal to be sitting alongside some legends of the Spanish game, including Fernando Morientes (ex-Real Madrid and Valencia) and Fernando Sanz.
As a primer, I grew up watching Spanish football before the Premier League, Serie A, and any other international football leagues, for that matter.
It was the Spanish National Team of 2002 that really caught my eye, and the thematic friendship of Raul and Morientes, made me believe that football was more than just a game. Come on, I literally screamed and cried at the TV screen – and refused to talk to anyone, except the wall, during that tournament.
The frustration of that tournament – and seeing South Korea suspiciously going through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup (hey, I’m all for Asian football doing well, but this was blatant poor refereeing) – made me feel closer to Spain than any other team.
More than a decade later, sitting down with actual members of that team on stage was surreal. I had to pinch myself a couple of times!
GROWTH IN ASIA
Singapore will be La Liga’s fourth office in Asia after China, India and Dubai, with plenty opportunities for growth.
“There is space for everybody, there is a lot of room to grow and there is something for everybody especially in the digital space. This is proven by the fact that last year our viewership audience grew by 40 per cent,” said the league’s President Javier Tebas.
“In this part of the world, more that 55 per cent of the world’s population lives here. It would be a mistake in our strategy if we don’t reach out to the people in Asia.”
Interestingly, a lot of La Liga content has been taken online, and ‘live’ screening events of el clasico in India saw more than 20,000 fans turn up, a figure that surprised La Liga themselves.
League ambassador, former Real Madrid and Liverpool striker Fernando Morientes, said : “I am very excited to be visiting Singapore for the launch of the special project.”
“As La Liga ambassadors, our biggest responsibility is to represent the best league in the world and keep our fans engaged with the sport. It’s always our endeavour to reach out to supporters, not only in Spain, but also across the world.”