Madrid, Dec 1 (IANS) The global might of Spanish football’s showpiece event — the derby between giants Real Madrid and FC Barcelona called the “El Clasico” — will be on full view on Saturday.
The two clubs have millions of fanatical fans all around the world: their club shops and stadiums are visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists, and although other Spanish teams also count on international fans, there can be little doubt that Barca and Madrid fly the flag for the La Liga, reports Xinhua.
Saturday sees the first Clasico of the season and the game will be watched by not only around 99,000 fans in Barcelona’s Camp Nou Stadium, but also by a worldwide TV audience of over 500 million people, making it La Liga’s showcase event.
“The Clasico isn’t just a Spanish phenomenon, neither is the La Liga,” La Liga President Javier Tebas said on Thursday.
Since taking over as the La Liga president in 2013, Tebas has worked hard to put Spanish football on a stable financial footing to both increase the credibility of the competition, and to raise its competitiveness.
With superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the match can boast the best two players in the world. In addition, heavyweights Neymar, Luis Suarez and Luka Modric will all be on hand to make it the most attractive club game on the planet.
“The Clasico is the sporting event between clubs which moves the most people in the world… it attracts more people than the Superbowl,” said Tebas, who added that the game “has to be a standard in our strategy” for exporting La Liga to fans worldwide.
“I think La Liga is a global phenomenon and as such we have to live the Clasico as a global phenomenon. In China, in the USA, in South Africa and India, we have to make the Clasico a global event,” he explained.
Worldwide TV deals, including one with Chinese network PPTV, means the game can be watched in homes and bars all over the planet (with the exception of the UK, where live games are not allowed to be shown between 2.45-5 local time in order to protect attendance at UK domestic games).
However, Tebas explained that La Liga ambassadors (former players charged with taking the image of the Spanish game all around the world) will be appearing at special events in South Africa, India and China with former Madrid striker Fernando Morientes appearing in Beijing, and former Valencia and Barcelona midfielder Gaizka Mendieta appearing in Shanghai. Luis Garcia will be present in New Delhi at a public screening of the match.
So this year’s Clasico will not just be watched on TV screens, for many fans it will be an all-round experience of Spanish football’s best, one that can only raise awareness and support for La Liga.