Spanish clubs watch Indian football with interest: Jose Antonio

The growing viewership of Spain’s top league, La Liga, in India is good news for the country’s football. This has prompted clubs across the European nation to watch the latter with more interest, according to LaLiga India chief executive Jose Antonio.

“Spanish clubs are watching India with interest and we can hope that they find the right conditions to come and establish partnerships. I think what European clubs are looking for is a wider connection with Indian fans,” Antonio said in a recent interaction.

“There are a lot of Spanish players and managers in the Indian Super League and this sends positive feedback to LaLiga clubs. Spanish clubs like Atletico Madrid are already in India working in partnership with Tata Football Academy. other LaLiga team, Sevilla FC, are level with Bengaluru FC,” he added.

The Indian chief also said that a LaLiga team may well tour the country next year. “We are working to bring LaLiga teams to India. The conversation has been going on for some time and we hope to have a LaLiga side, not one of the top two (Real Madrid and FC Barcelona), visiting India next year,” he said.

Antonio said the fans’ deep emotional connection with the color of their favorite club is what creates the basis of football and this factor will define the evolution of the sport in India.

No strong national league

“India didn’t have a strong domestic league until recently. Until now, the tradition of the club only worked in Kolkata with names like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal and a bit with Mohammedan Sporting. In India , cricket is the benchmark for all sports and even there the club system is quite new,” said Antonio.

“It basically means you’re still new to the trickle down effect on loyalty. And again, the cricket league (IPL), which attracts the biggest crowd, is here too short to develop lasting fan influence. So, it is still not the time to guess whether these leagues will become strong leagues,” he said while analyzing the state of club football in India.

Edward K. Thompson