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La Liga reveals globetrotting plans

La Liga chiefs have launched a new tournament called the "LFP World Challenge" which will see exhibition games played in Europe, North and South America and Asia in order to promote Spain overseas.

Ronaldo and Messi have been kept apart in the semi-final draw
La Liga boasts the two biggest star attractions in global football, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The ambitious plan, which would see games played in countries including the United States, China, Colombia, Mongolia and Turkey, and will also feature teams from other nations, was launched on Thursday by Spanish Football League (LFP) president Javier Tebas and Spain’s sports minister Miguel Cardenal.

Tebas said in AS that the idea was to leverage the appeal of Real Madrid and Barcelona and advertise both the Spanish game and improve the country’s overall image overseas.

“The objective is to generate confidence and value in the Spanish brand and football can play a part in this,” he said. “La Liga puts Spain’s brand on a global level. For example, El Clasico, which has 400 million spectators. All our clubs are going to unite with this global experience, so that Spain’s brand can keep growing.”

Early details of the tournament suggest the idea is to play the games over three years -- with first phase of games [to be called "Time of Challenge"] to be held in summer 2014 -- either at the end of the regular club season, or during pre-season for the 2014-15 campaign.

Summer 2015 will see more games [the "Challenger Select Series"] in which non-Spanish teams will also be invited to play. The Spanish team with best results over these games will play in a final during summer 2016 against the club that has won the most La Liga titles in the previous three seasons.

Tebas said games would be hosted in cities all over the world, with the aim of promoting both Spain and Spanish football.

“We will travel to Houston, New York, Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, China, Indonesia, Mongolia, Malaysia, Turkey…,” he said. “There is no financial value if we do not go out around the world.”

The success or otherwise of such plans may depend to a large extent on whether Spain's big two Barcelona and Real Madrid are involved, and both clubs usually take any chance they can to play their own money-spinning exhibition games overseas -- with Madrid just last week facing Paris Saint-Germain in Qatar. Tebas said he had been given "a commitment" that Madrid and Barca would take part.

“We would have to fit with how their preseasons are, but we have a commitment from them,” he said.

Sports minister Miguel Cardenal explained how the games were a chance for Spanish clubs -- which currently owe at least 650 million euros in back taxes between them -- to do something positive for the currently troubled Spanish economy.

"Spanish football generates recognition and admiration all over the world,” Cardenal said. “The LFP, like the rest of Spanish sport, is giving a lesson in how to help the economic recovery of our country.

“There will be a football match and Spanish Experience, a business event that will accompany the football, and it will serve to help Spanish businesses grow. Seminars. Congresses. I think that Spanish football owes Spanish society.”

Meanwhile, Tebas also said he had no problem with the mooted plan for the Qatar World Cup 2022 to be played during the winter months.

“It is no catastrophe to play the World Cup in winter,” he said. “We must all make an effort to do that. If we work it out with time, it would not be a big disruption as people are saying. It will be a big success.”


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