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African Football HQ Podcast: Can La Liga eclipse the Premier League in Africa?

It’s an African Football HQ special this week, as Ed Dove sits down to talk all things Spanish football in Africa with Managing Director for La Liga in Southern Africa, Marcos Pelegrin.

Since taking his current role 15 months ago, Pelegrin has maintained the work of his predecessor Antonia Barradas, continuing the brand development she began in 2015.

Five months into the La Liga Africa project, Pelegrin talks us through the progress made to date, particularly the strategic partnerships forged and the way the Spanish top flight has been introduced to populations in the region in their own local languages.

Indeed, taking La Liga—in Shona—to the Shona population of Zimbabwe is something that Pelegrin is particularly proud of!

2020 has, of course, been a testing year, but La Liga has still maintained growth in Southern Africa, not least in Ghana where, according to Pelegrin, the league has become even more popular since the departure of Thomas Partey to Arsenal.

Despite the boom in the region, Pelegrin isn’t keen for the league’s big names—be they Lionel Messi or Partey—to depart, and is acutely aware of the importance of local stars in the Spanish top flight in order to engage with African fans.

Fortunately, the likes of Huesca—with Kelechi Nwakali—or Granda—with Ramon Azeez—can boast Nigeria stars to generate interest in the massive West African nation.

However, it isn’t the same everywhere, and Pelegrin sheds light on a few of his strategies to ensure that local fans buy into the allure of some of La Liga’s less glamorous sides.

Perhaps the elephant in the room is the relationship between La Liga and Africa’s local leagues—particularly the PSL in South Africa, where attendances at and interest in games not involving the big three can be modest.

Similarly, La Liga’s competition with the Premier League—which already enjoys a major foothold across Africa—is a challenge.

How can the Spanish top flight compete with the PL, which engenders such an emotional response and enjoys such visibility among African supporters?

Check out our in-depth interview with Pelegrin to hear about his strategies and solutions to these problems—and more—as La Liga aims to bring the best of Spanish football to Africa.