By David Owen
October 24 – He may have kept his audience waiting at this week’s Sportel sports media and marketing convention in Monaco, but La Liga President Javier Tebas did not disappoint. Interviewed onstage for 30 minutes, as ever in his native Spanish, the man who has emerged as probably the most colourful and consistently interesting league boss in the business in recent years, since La Liga moved belatedly to a collective selling model for its broadcasting rights, put in a typically punchy performance.
On the Spanish league’s energetic international sales push, for example, Tebas, looking almost cuddly in a woolly cardigan, proclaimed: “We do not want to be colonisers of the football industry in these countries”, with the local product relegated to “a teeny-weeny little corner”. On the contrary, La Liga wanted “everybody” to grow.
Warming to his theme, he went on: “We want to be Number Two in other countries in the world. We don’t want to be Number One.
“We have to make sure we count in the digital world of all these countries.”
On Neymar, Paris St Germain and UEFA’s financial fairplay (FFP) regulations, Tebas again raised the possibility of litigating with the European Union, though he hoped that UEFA would “take its measures”.
“This is a market that goes beyond national boundaries,” he insisted.
And, talking of national boundaries, the Liga President took an unsurprisingly strong stance on the Catalonia issue. “This has caused a great instability in the environment and will have an impact in all sorts of economic sectors,” he acknowledged.
However: “We are in a phase where this madness is coming to an end. Everything will fall back into its proper place. Spain will still be a nation – that is one nation.”
“I think that this madness has come to an end,” he reiterated. “We are going to have maybe some traumas, some other issues. But we are talking about La Liga Española. This is going to remain the same.”
A few questions from the floor and with that he was off – the man who wants to be number two everywhere but Spain.
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