By Ibrahim El-Shawarby, Maydaa Abo El-Nadar
CAIRO, MAR.12 (SEE) – Famous and beloved Spanish LaLiga is doing its best to expand across Egypt. It enjoys a very wide and strong fanbase in Egypt. To know more about its presence, activities, economic plans and future vision in the country, SEE News interviewed Juan Fuentes Fernández, La Liga (the Spanish Football League) Global Network Egypt’s Delegate.
Q. What is your professional role in Egypt, and how are you planning to implement your strategies?
A. As LaLiga Delegate to Egypt, my role is to foster the relationship between the Spanish Football League and all the stakeholders in Egypt that has something to do with sports (media, broadcasters, sponsors, teams, federation, etc.). It is also very important for us to be close to our fans in the countries where LaLiga fan base is massive, and of course, Egypt is the case.
Q. What current projects are you currently working on?
A. We have academies in New Cairo (AIS & Aviation Club), we are implementing educational projects with ESLSCA (Sports marketing program with professionals from LaLiga), CSR and Brand awareness program with the Embassy of Spain. We run a road-show in Egyptian public universities about LaLiga and its cities, have a local sponsor (Orange Egypt). We are about to sign an important agreement with IOM Egypt (UN Migration) and of course we are doing more things, but still to reveal.
Q. Do you find Egypt a profitable market for your projects?
A. Egypt is a huge market. 100 million people and a huge passion for football and especially for LaLiga. It´s a profitable market for us.
Q. Are there current plans to open up Spanish football franchises in Egypt?
A. We are in talks with companies in Egypt that might find interesting the wide range of marketing tools we offer in a regional /local level as a way to engage customers: IP rights, hospitality, LED at the stadiums, LaLiga Ambassadors, co-branded content. We talk with brands in many categories and so far the companies find our deployment of assets very interesting.
Q. In Egypt, what current expansion La Liga teams are interested in?
A. We have Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético Madrid with Academies since many years ago… Rayo Vallecano has come to play a friendly match last August.
LaLiga teams are interested in the Middle East and Egypt since it is the biggest country in the region in terms of population.
Q. Have you been in touch with any government officials during your stay in Egypt?
A. Sure, I have been in touch with the Ministry of Sports, Ministry of Tourism, ITIDA ( Ministry of IT), National Council of Women… I had the chance to meet some of the ministers and I can gladly say they are all welcoming us in Egypt and willing to cooperate.
Q. Do you find the current investment laws in Egypt in favor of LaLiga?
A. More than investment law I believe is important to speak about the sports law.
Egypt has launched last year a new and sports law which encourage professionalization, which is something that we aim in a global perspective.
Q. Will any of your projects involve financing the promising youth footballers in Egypt so that they would one day reach international stardom?
A. We have a Spanish coach on the ground in our academy and our teams they also do have coaches on the ground, if there are very talented players, of course, they will have a look to see if there is room for them in LaLiga.
Q. How long are you planning to stay in Egypt?
A. I have a long term assignment to develop LaLiga in Egypt. The reality is that I am in Egypt because I love the country, the people and the Mediterranean lifestyle, which makes me more comfortable in Cairo streets than in Paris. People are so welcoming and warm. This is what matters in the end, aside from your job. I always say, if there is something better in Egypt than the Pyramids, temple and the Nile, is the people.
Q. When will you be able to decide if your stay has been fruitful?
A. I used to work here in 2015 for a year at the Embassy of Spain. It was my choice to come back to Cairo so I can say it was fruitful already and for the time being now with LaLiga, it´s been fruitful, both personally and professionally.
Q. Are you involved with any other sports?
A. LaLiga is committed to give visibility and develop more sports through our platform “LaLigaSports”. We give funds from our TV rights to the development of all sports in Spain, and we are enhancing our platform to broadcast follow online all the sports in our country.
Q. Do you communicate with any of La Liga’s star players?
A. LaLiga is the association of teams of the first and second tier. We have direct touch with all teams and therefore the players.
Q. How about the presence of Egyptian players in LaLiga?
A. We had Mido and Amor Tarek. Everybody remembers Mido in Celta Vigo back in 2003. But the reality is that since then no Egyptian has arrived. Somehow it´s pride because without Egyptian players we are still on the top of sports competitions followed in Egypt. Still, in Egypt, there is a big potential and talent pool we are eager to explore.
Q. What about LaLiga fans in Egypt?
A. There are millions, very passionate. There are 2 official fan clubs, Real Madrid Café Cairo (Nasr City) and Barça Cairo fans (Sheikh Zayed) completely managed by Egyptians. In the events they do, they gather hundreds or thousands of people to watch LaLiga. Also, the fan base of the rest of the clubs of LaLiga is increasing exponentially.