Javier Tebas continues to lead the international expansion of LaLiga, which now has five foreign offices on four continents.
Today, Friday, Nigeria became the second African country to be home to a LaLiga office, after South Africa. LaLiga president Javier Tebas was in attendance for the opening of the organisation’s latest international base as part of the continued effort to expand Spanish football’s frontiers. LaLiga now boasts overseas offices in the USA, China, Dubai, South Africa and Nigeria.
Javier Tebas was joined by Antonio Barnuevo, the Spanish ambassador to Nigeria; Antonio Barradas, LaLiga’s country manager for South Africa; and Vicente Casado, LaLiga’s managing director of international development, to open the new office in Abuja. Speaking at the opening ceremony, the president highlighted how both LaLiga and Nigerian football will benefit from a closer relationship: “We’ve made a lot of progress in the last three months and in the next few weeks a team of players from Nigeria will be playing three matches in Spain. These players will have the chance to show what they can do in front of coaches and scouts from Spanish clubs. We will also be sharing our knowledge by sending coaches to work with the academies of clubs in the Nigerian league, the NPFL [Nigeria Professional Football League].” He also voiced his confidence that the five-year commercial and technical partnership agreement signed between LaLiga and the NPFL “will be a success” before adding, “I’m sure that when these first five years have elapsed, the deal will be extended.”
Ambassador Barnuevo expressed his pride at the partnership agreement: “I’m really satisfied that one of the most powerful institutions in Spain, and probably in the world, LaLiga, has opened an office in Abuja. I believe that we’ve got a bright future ahead of us.” In terms of what this future holds, Tebas noted that the link-up could well see Spanish teams travel to Nigeria in years to come: “LaLiga clubs could visit Nigeria to play friendly fixtures. Indeed FC Barcelona could come to Nigeria and that would prove just what a great league the NPFL is.”
Shehu Dikko, chairman of Nigeria’s League Management Company (LMC), believes that the partnership represents a turning point for Nigerian football: “We’re delighted with the small steps that we’ve taken to date and we wish to thank LaLiga for deciding to open an office in Nigeria.”
The African nation represents an attractive market for LaLiga, as testified by the figures registered in the country in relation to the Spanish top flight. Some 15 million Nigerians consider themselves to be LaLiga fans, whilst 2.3 million watched at least one fixture from the competition during the 2015/16 season. Over 50% of viewers watch games outside of their own homes, catching matches at work or in bars and restaurants, whilst nearly half a million Nigerians use their mobile devices to see games.
This report was first published on the LaLiga website