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‘You don’t need to stop loving cricket to start loving football’: LaLiga India’s MD Jose Antonio Cachaza

La Liga is among the quickly rising soccer leagues by way of fanbase in India, and one of many pioneers for its fast growth is Jose Antonio Cachaza, the Managing Director for the league within the nation. Cachaza has been instrumental in increasing La Liga‘s attain in India via partnerships with native organizations and initiatives such because the La Liga Football Schools program, which goals to advertise grassroots soccer growth throughout the nation. The Hindustan Times sat with Cachaza to grasp the insights about La Liga’s operations on this nation, because it took one other step in the direction of growing engagement with the Indian fanbase on Monday; the league, in partnership with the Embassy of Spain in India and the Instituto Cervantes, launched a Spanish-Hindi soccer dictionary on the Residence of the Embassy of Spain in New Delhi.

Jose Antonio Cachaza (LaLiga)

Cachaza arrived in India in 2017; curiously sufficient, Cachaza had revealed in an interview final 12 months that he didn’t know a factor about India and its economics when he first landed within the nation.

“I will tell you a little story. I had been trying to understand India and its economics since the very beginning. A few months after I came here, I told a friend, ‘I’ll never fully understand India’. And this person says, ‘it’s okay if you’re struggling to understand India, because we don’t understand it either!’” Cachaza tells us.

Then, he shares a bit of recommendation he acquired from a Spanish good friend working in India which helped him regulate to the dynamics on this nation.

“Basically, you must understand how to deal with situation and persons. Every country has a business culture that is different. When I came to India, a Spanish friend who conducts business in Tamil Nadu gave me an advice; ‘In India, you have to be patient’. And it was a great advice. What he did not tell me, though, is that Indians are incredibly impatient! That is a contradiction we have to balance every day here. I try to understand how to deal with the situation, how to pitch the product to who-is-who in the market. Those are the basics in any industry in this country. In football, our clients are fans, potential sponsors, title sponsors, broadcasters… it is quite complex! And I’m still learning,” says Cachaza.

But at the same time as unfamiliarity with the Indian market was a priority for Cachaza, he did know one factor; Cricket is the preferred sport within the nation, simply as soccer is in Spain. Was it arduous adjusting to that actuality?

“Not really. Honestly, I never felt the pressure because I was quite aware about where football is, and where La Liga stands in India. We knew we are not the no.1 in a sport which isn’t no.1 (referring to Premier League’s fanbase in India). We needed to climb in that way. Also, I’ve to say that my bosses in Madrid, starting by Javier Tebas, understood this. We are in India with a long-term approach of building our brand and business, and our fan-base, not in that order. I always had a full support in terms of that. Of course, we have pressure of selling the product, but it was never a key pointer. The objective was, and still is, to keep building the brand,” Cachaza explains.

In 2019, La Liga did money in on the recognition of cricket in India as they introduced on board Rohit Sharma because the ambassador for the league within the nation. The star Indian batter is an enormous Real Madrid fan and was, on the time, an integral member of the Indian workforce. Rohit ultimately went to turn into the captain of males’s nationwide workforce throughout all codecs in 2021. The determination, nevertheless, met with sure criticism from followers on social media however Cachaza explains it was a fastidiously thought-out name.

“Basically, there were ups and downs. The relationship with Rohit came at a time when we thought it would help us to have a brand ambassador in India. We thought about Bollywood actors as well, all fantastic; but then, we realised that working with cricketer would make more sense than a Bollywood actor. Of course, we had complaints from fans on social media about why we had a cricketer. At the end, that’s where the following is. Rohit has the same number of followers as Ranveer Singh, the brand ambassador of the Premier League,” says the La Liga MD.

“But cricket fans are sports fans. With Rohit, you’re telling them, ‘listen, you don’t need to stop loving cricket to start loving football. If your hero loves football and La Liga, so can you’. That was the underlying message. With Bollywood, a big chunk of their following won’t be sports fans. With cricketers, most will be sports fans.”

And La Liga did develop. Even with the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – two of probably the most bankable stars in sporting world – La Liga continues to take care of a sustainable fanbase within the nation. What helps extra, in line with Cachaza, is the revival of FC Barcelona this 12 months.

Barcelona are on the right track to profitable the La Liga title this 12 months – their first since 2019.

“It’s important. Because we need fans to develop loyalty. I perceive, in Asia, and particularly in India, there’s a clear revolution that they start following stars and it leads them to following clubs. It’s happened majorly from David Beckham’s era. You look at Manchester United; they have been underperforming for the last 10 years, but they’re still in the top-3 clubs. That tells you that the loyalty towards the club stays there.

“Barca and Madrid will always be there. They will be up and down, but they will be there. Our challenge is to make fans more aware about Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Villarreal, Real Betis, Bilbao… that’s our real challenge. To make fans more aware about the second-tier clubs,” says Cachaza.

La Liga at grassroots

Last 12 months, Kajol D’Souza, one of many college students of La Liga Football Schools, went on to symbolize India on the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup. Cachaza says she’s going to quickly be travelling to Europe. “Kajol will be going to Europe. She’s going to get a La Liga scholarship for training in Spain,” he reveals.

The work is much from achieved, nevertheless, and the La Liga MD stresses on the necessity for higher competitions – significantly on the youth stage.

“Honestly, when you develop football school projects, you have hopes but you don’t have a clear path traced towards high-performance academies. It’s good that you have boys and girls moving over to ISL academies or Tata academies. Some of our kids have moved to ISL academies. We are the first step; in men’s football, the level of youth competition is not big enough in India. In women’s football, the situation is even worse. But that’s in Spain as well. That’s a challenge we all need to give more attention to,” says Cachaza.



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