Not only is Spain home to some of the biggest clubs and best players in world football, but the country also boasts some of the sport’s most intense and exciting derbies. There is much more at stake than three points when certain clubs meet and these rivalries have been showcased in Africa through interactive workshops held in the Nigerian city of Lagos and the South African city of Johannesburg.
The five derbies showcased included the Basque Derby between Real Sociedad and Athletic Club, the ‘Gran Derbi’ between Sevilla and Real Betis, the Madrid Derby between Atlético and Real Madrid, the Valencian Derby between Valencia and Levante and the Catalan Derby between Barcelona and RCD Espanyol de Barcelona. To truly bring these to life, LaLiga used food, music and player appearances to offer local media a memorable experience.
Organisers set up five ‘corners’, with each explaining the history of a fixture, of the clubs and of the local community. These corners were decorated to represent each region, for example in the style of a traditional bar or beach, allowing reporters to stop by in small groups. There, they enhanced their knowledge of the league’s most passionate fixtures thanks to insight from LaLiga representatives.
Attendees also received a cultural overview of each region in an interactive and hands-on way. They were shown the difference between a pincho and a tapa, practiced some flamenco dance steps, took part in a quiz, learned about the architecture of Antoni Gaudí, made the Catalan ‘pan con tomate’, listened to the sounds of a mascletà and got to know more about the ingredients of a good Valencian paella.
Further, the journalists heard from former Real Sociedad player Mutiu Adepoju about his Basque Derby highlights, saw fans of Sevilla and Real Betis make their case for their club being the best in the region, read placards with further information about the derbies and were given a six-page derbies guidebook.
“Some media told us that that this was the best event they have ever attended in Nigeria, which is a credit to the innovative set-up and experience that was created,” Javier del Río Huesa, the managing director of LaLiga Nigeria, revealed. “Through these media, the interest in our competition is spread all over the country and the viewing for LaLiga goes up as a result. This is vital for our growth in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.”
The derbies were covered extensively in the local media in the days following the events. Reports in the aftermath of the Nigerian event, for example, have reached over 44 million people to date.
“Without knowing about the great Spanish derbies, you are missing some of the most exciting moments in LaLiga,” Antonio Barradas, the director for LaLiga in Africa, pointed out. “This was a fantastic way to give African audiences a taste of what football really means across Spain. It creates an appetite to learn more, which helps us to win new followers of the whole league, not just a few teams.”
Del Río added: “LaLiga has a lot more to offer besides El Clásico, so it’s very important that international media can discover more about our local derbies, cities, culture and teams.”
There are already plans for such events to be replicated in other countries all around the world, with the objective of opening eyes to the local significance of LaLiga’s derbies and bringing the true flavour of Spanish football to life.