Wednesday Jun 17, 2020. 14:05
Despite social distancing still affecting the industry in its entirety, many have sought out alternative measures to provide a solution to keeping teams fit and fans engaged.
LaLiga, the Spanish men’s top professional football league, is one example of a sporting organisation that aligns the entertainment needs of their fans with great quality football despite the circumstances.
To fully prepare teams for the challenge ahead, LaLiga started training in larger groups of 10 players following the Coronavirus-enforced suspension. Although strict guidelines remained in place, all clubs had started their training sessions to ensure equal footing training routines.
These training regimes also included a phased approach that included four intrinsic stages that would allow for the seamless return to physical fitness for all players as well as match readiness for all clubs. All steps were in line with Spanish health protocols and included individual testing, single training, then group training sessions, thereafter collectives.
In anticipation of the comeback of the league, the company also launched a new campaign, LaLiga #BackToWin. The campaign represented the excitement building and leading up to fully returning to the league while hyping football fans for the upcoming matches.
“LaLiga will support and protect all clubs during this current situation and ensure that safety and health remain at the forefront now that players are returning to training and official matches,” said LaLiga Managing Director, Marcos Pelegrin at the virtual press conference announcing the campaign. “Football is making its big comeback and LaLiga is #BackToWin.”
This comes after LaLiga announced its plans to return on June 11th. The remaining matchdays of the league season will be played consecutively over the following five weeks until July 19th.
These matches, however, will be unlike anything football fans have experienced before. As Pelegrin put it, “Matches will look and sound different.” He continued, “We are taking broadcasting to a new level to ensure the health and safety of our players and football fans. Get ready for virtualisation of stands and fan audio – both geared to creating a compelling and cutting-edge broadcasting experience for our viewers.”
For these broadcasts, the stands will be virtualised and will always offer to-scale images of seated fans wearing the colours of the home club. In addition to this, the broadcast will also feature virtual sound obtained through a collaboration with EA SPORTS FIFA, in a project called Sounds of the Stands. The live recordings of the stadiums will be digitally adapted and implemented in real-time during matches to offer fans a unique experience.
Truly, football fans are in for an exciting season, one which LaLiga, in partnership with PUMA, has been promoting through the #LaLigaBouncesBack campaign. The campaign features 52 international sports stars in addition to African PUMA ambassador such as Zakhele Lepasa, Lebogang Maboe and Themba Zwane, to name a few. This campaign is key in reflecting the importance of LaLiga to the global industry through ball-pass videos shared on social media.
Throughout this time of social isolation, LaLiga has put in place various marketing campaigns to maintain enthusiasm for the sport. Pelegrin concludes, “We will continue to excite and entertain through various innovations and measures to ensure we keep the football spark alive for fans and players alike.”
Fans in Southern Africa can also be advised that as we go towards a new normal, LaLiga South Africa will continue to implement more fun, entertaining and developmental initiatives for football fans, plus local football organisations – continuing in the trend of empowerment in the Southern tip of Africa.
Former Bafana Bafana, Recreativo de Huelva and Racing Santander defender Nasief Morris weighed in on LaLiga’s return to action and was impressed by the quality on show all considering.
“It is good that we have some action going on. This pandemic has affected the whole world and it is sad especially for people like us who’ve been involved in football for most of our lives and I think much of our lives revolve around football – that is obviously concerning myself as well,” Morris said.
“It just shows how professional all the players are. During this specific period you can become very lazy, but the players stuck to their programmes and the outcome is visible for everyone to see.
Morris spent two seasons on-loan in Spain and has fond memories of competing at the highest level in Europe.
“I clearly remember my debut for Huelva [against Real Betis] and the stadium was packed, the atmosphere was amazing. Fortunately enough I was able to cope with it. I had good preparation for that.
Remembering his time at Santander, he added: “I actually look at my goal I scored sometimes because I have the video clip. I think we were 1-0 down and we equalised with a few minutes to go. We then had a corner and I volleyed it in to win it, that win gave us a lifeline,” he concluded.
(Copy supplied by LaLiga/ Edited by AF)