x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Primera Liga president open to idea of staging matches in the UAE

Javier Tebas was in the Emirates as part of a worldwide charm offensive that aims to increase sponsorship revenue for the 20 clubs playing in the Spanish top flight.

Barcelona players throw coach Pep Guardiola in the air after defeating Estudiantes in the Club World Cup final in Abu Dhabi. Fahad Shadeed / Reuters
Barcelona players throw coach Pep Guardiola in the air after defeating Estudiantes in the Club World Cup final in Abu Dhabi. Fahad Shadeed / Reuters

DUBAI // Residents of the UAE will not be able to ride a Real Madrid roller coaster, but they might one day experience the tumultuous thrill of competitive Spanish football in the Emirates.

Real Madrid will contest the Dubai Cup this winter as part of their sponsorship deal with Emirates Airline, however, the president of Primera Liga yesterday said ideas are being explored to bring more Spanish clubs to the region.

Javier Tebas was in the Emirates as part of a worldwide charm offensive that aims to increase sponsorship revenue for the 20 clubs playing in the Spanish top flight. He said that hosting a competitive round of the league, similar to the 39th game once discussed by the English Premier League, would “not be easy”, but acknowledged the idea of hosting a one-off competitive match or tournament.

“Official league matches would be very difficult,” he said. “But other types of fixtures could work. The strategy of La Liga is not to do something isolated, but rather long-term sustainability. The Super Cup could be an option, but it belongs to the [Spanish Football] Federation.”

The German Bundesliga, as part of its television rights deal with Dubai Sports, brings teams to the Emirates each winter for warm-weather training and, usually, an exhibition match. Tebas said it is also an option to be explored.

This season’s Super Cup was scheduled to be held in China, following a lucrative seven-year agreement between the Federation and the Asian nation. However, Barcelona refused to play and it was eventually held in Spain, with the Catalan club defeating Atletico Madrid over two legs.

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae