LaLiga and MTN Irancell Team Up to Bring Global Football to Iran
Spanish football league LaLiga held a three-day football clinic in Tehran in late February, welcoming 90 children for a day of coaching and friendly competition at the Olympic Football Complex.
LaLiga, Spain’s highest division, is one of the most-watched leagues in the world, and is home to rockstar teams Real Madrid and F.C. Barcelona. LaLiga executives believe theirs is the most followed foreign league in football-mad Iran, in part due to the broadcasting of Real Madrid and F.C. Barcelona matches on state television networks IRIB TV3 and IRIB Varzesh.
The decision to conduct a first-of-its-kind football clinic in Tehran reflects a strategy that LaLiga has adopted in growth markets around the world, including China and India. In Iran, the clinic initiative was spearheaded by Khais Rahmanie, an international business development executive with the Spanish league.
As Rahmanie explains, the clinics “are not just an opportunity to share knowledge and LaLiga’s winning methodology, but also to help our highly skilled coaches learn about the Iranian market and the skills and talents that are present.”
The clinic welcomed three world-class coaches. Luciano Santana Martel, a former youth coach at Deportivo de la Coruña and Francisco José García López and Carlos Casal López, international development coaches with LaLiga, traveled to Iran to run the training sessions.
But the star of the show was Gaizka Mendieta, a legend of Spanish side Valencia, who also played short spells at Barcelona and Lazio, an Italian club.
MTN Irancell, a leading telecommunications company, provided financial support for the event. The company boasts one of Iran’s most proactive and successful retail marketing strategies and is actively involved in Iranian football, both as a strategic partner for the Persian Gulf Pro League, Iran’s top division, and as a shirt sponsor for Persepolis and Esteghlal, two of the league’s most successful teams and greatest rivals.
Irancell and LaLiga concluded a regional partnership for Iran in December 2017. At the time, LaLiga’s managing director, Javier Gomez commented that the agreement “amplifies further the global recognition of LaLiga brand all around the world and help us to connect and engage further with our millions of fans in Iran in very innovative way.” As part of the partnership, LaLiga matches, exclusive interviews with players, and documentaries about Spanish teams will be broadcasted through “Lenz Sport,” Irancell’s internet protocol television service.
LaLiga is currently planning more events Iran, with a further clinic to be held in April. But, just as in coaching, patience is the key for LaLiga’s market expansion. Rahmanie says, “We are taking our time to evaluate how to organize future events so we can bring the best possible experience for our fans in Iran.”
Photo Credit: LaLiga