SINGAPORE: Spain's football league La Liga launched a regional hub office in Singapore on Thursday (Mar 23), as part of its international expansion strategy to popularise the league in Southeast Asia.
Speaking at the press conference during the launch, La Liga's president Javier Tebas said the league wants to tap on the growing presence and popularity of La Liga in this region.
He said: "We are delighted to extend our presence in Asia, and this is the next step in our efforts to grow the sport and La Liga's popularity globally.
"Asia has always been a very important market for us, and we feel that the time is right to grow out presence in the region even further, where we have a huge fan base. I am eagerly looking forward to our visit to Singapore for this historical project."
La Liga said it will focus on investing time and resources through exhibition matches, player visits and grassroots development programmes.
MORE TEAMS TO VISIT SINGAPORE
Among their plans is to bring in more La Liga teams to Singapore. "We’ll definitely be looking into bringing in some of the clubs here for exhibition matches next summer in 2018, as it part of our strategy for growth here,” said Mr Tebas.
Acknowledging that the La Liga would have to compete against the popularity of the English Premier League in Asia, Mr Tebas said there is enough of the viewership pie for everyone. “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.”
“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.”
The league's 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," added the former forward.
This is the league's fourth office in Asia after China, India and Dubai. La Liga said its Singapore office will house a dedicated set of resources to execute its proposed projects in the region.
As soon as La Liga Singapore's office at Great World City's East Tower officially starts work next month, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) is planning to propose sending a group local youth players for training stints in Spain through the newfound partnership.
According to FAS interim president Lim Kia Tong: "From our initial internal discussions, we’re looking at possibility of getting four of our youth players for a stint there. That’s where I believe we, too, can benefit from this new relationship."