Facebook to broadcast La Liga games for free in Indian subcontinent

In this file photo, Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his second goal during the Spanish league football match between FC Barcelona and Girona FC at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on Feb. 24, 2018. (LLUIS GENE/AFP)
Updated 14 August 2018
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Facebook to broadcast La Liga games for free in Indian subcontinent

MADRID: Lionel Messi, Gareth Bale and a host of La Liga stars will be beamed for free to viewers in the Indian subcontinent as part of a landmark deal with Facebook to broadcast live matches, the Spanish top flight division said Tuesday.
All 380 football matches of the new 2018-2019 La Liga season, which begins Friday, will be available to watch on the social media network in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, La Liga said in a statement.
“We are delighted to team up with Facebook and be able to bring the action closer to all followers of La Liga in the Indian subcontinent,” said La Liga President Javier Tebas.
“La liga is a reference in world football and it is a great satisfaction for us that now, the number of people who can watch matches live in this geographic area will be greater than ever and they will be able to do so for free through Facebook.”
The deal will last for the next three seasons and will include pre- and post-match analysis programs.
The financial details of the agreement were not disclosed in the statement but Spanish sports daily Marca reported that the deal was worth 90 million euros ($105.5 million).
In June La Liga announced it had renewed its contract for five seasons, between 2019-2024, for the international broadcast rights for the Spanish championship for around 4.48 billion euros — or about 896 million euros per season, a 30 percent increase over the previous agreement.
Facebook earlier this month agreed a deal with UK broadcaster Eleven Sports to show one La Liga and one Serie A game per week on its platform.
Five-time World Player of the Year Ronaldo’s Serie A debut with Juventus at Chievo on August 18, and Atletico Madrid’s La Liga opener at Valencia two days later are among the matches scheduled for free-to-air viewing. Barcelona’s visit to Valladolid on August 25 is also included.
“This partnership reflects our commitment to helping broadcasters reach new audiences, build their brands and deliver a great viewing experience for sports fans on Facebook,” Rhys Beer, Facebook’s live sports programming lead for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said at the time.
The deal is just the latest step toward the online sector securing lucrative live football contracts after Amazon secured the rights to show 20 Premier League matches a season for three years in the UK, starting from the 2019/20 season in June.
The US company breaks up the recent dominance of Sky and BT Sport of lucrative Premier League TV rights in a first for the online sector that is threatening to shake up the traditional sports rights market.
India has billion-plus mobile phone users — more than any other country on earth — and close to half a billion people with Internet access, most via their smartphones, that make streaming video from sites like Facebook possible.


Spain considers playing Super Cup in Saudi Arabia

Updated 24 April 2019
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Spain considers playing Super Cup in Saudi Arabia

  • Proposal will be made at the federation’s general assembly next week

MADRID: The Spanish soccer federation is looking into the possibility of playing the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia beginning next year.

Federation President Luis Rubiales said Wednesday playing in the Middle East is one of the options being considered for the tournament, as well as a “final four” format with the top finishers in the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey.

The competition has been played in a one-game final between the champions at the beginning of the season. The idea is to play the new Super Cup in January.

The proposal will be made during the federation’s general assembly next week.

Rubiales did not confirm reports the deal will be worth €30 million ($33 million) a year for six seasons, saying “it will be difficult” to reach that value.

The federation president, one of the main critics of the Spanish league’s idea to play a regular-season match in the US, said the decision would take into consideration the players’ health, noting that playing in Saudi Arabia would not affect them as much as if the game was played in the US or Asia, where travel time and time differences were greater. Last year’s final, won by Barcelona against Sevilla, was played in Tangier, Morocco.

This year’s Italian Super Cup was played in Saudi Arabia as part of a multi-year deal worth more than €20 million ($22 million).  The Spanish players’ association, which complained about the Spanish league’s attempt to play in the US, did not oppose the idea of playing in Saudi Arabia.

“We weren’t against playing in the United States, what we wanted at the time was to be consulted about the idea and to give our opinion,” association president David Aganzo said Wednesday at an event organized by Europa Press. “If the proposal for the Super Cup is good for the players, we won’t have a problem with it.”

The Spanish league had to scrap the game in Florida after Barcelona, which would have faced Girona, backed down because of the lack of consensus among the parties involved. The league said it will try playing abroad again next season.

There is also a plan by the federation to reduce the number of games in the Copa del Rey to help clear up the calendar and keep teams from playing too many matches. The competition would include single elimination matches in some rounds, instead of a two-leg series. The proposal is also expected to be presented in next week’s general assembly.

“The clubs and the players want less official matches in the calendar,” Rubiales said.