Hyderabad: El Clasico, the blockbuster show of Spanish La Liga, will be held behind closed doors for the first time due to prevailing Covid-19 condition. Spain is the hardest-hit country in Europe and a second wave seems an imminent threat.
However, the El Clasico, scheduled for this weekend, will provide a much-needed relief from the pandemic, according to the organisers. The biggest rivalry in the La Liga – between Real Madrid and Barcelona, the most-successful clubs in Spain, will resume this Saturday. The first match between these two teams in La Liga was dated back to late 1920. Both teams have had equal success so far in the history of El Clasico with Real Madrid winning 73 to Barcelona’s 72. A total of 288 goals have been scored by both teams and the rivalry for supremacy continues this weekend. Lionel Messi, arguably the best footballer on the planet, has the highest goals with 18.
Speaking on the challenges of pandemic on La Liga, Jose Antonio Cachaza, the MD of La Liga India, said they were the second football league in the world after Bundesliga to resume since pandemic halted the sporting activities across the globe. It returned to action on June 2. They had saved 1,80,000 jobs of the league which accounts for 1.37 GDP of the country. The resumption was planned in a four-phased manner starting with individual training to group training with a two-week gap in between each phase.
La LIga has completed 110 games in 39 days and 500 trips between cities. They carried out thousands of tests to players, officials and support staff. “The greatest achievement of La Liga is the season for 2020-21 has started on schedule and the league is up and running,” said Gary Udhwani, the La Liga delegate to India.
The officials also revealed that they have launched La Liga official applications in India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Vietnam in English, Hindi, Bengali and other languages to bring fans together. In the run up to El Clasico, the La Liga has conducted events to mobilise fans. “We had a red carpet event at the Red Fort in India and in other countries and have seen a good response. Given the pandemic, digital platforms have become more active with fan engagements. So we have planned a few events,” said Jose.
He also revealed that their La Liga football schools in India are waiting for suitable time to resume training. “Right now, the training is being provided online and the return to ground is linked to many things like it linked to schools. We don’t want to take any chances and regret later,” Jose revealed.