ElClasico: La Liga’s world-class event

There will be no fans at ElClasico, although La Liga are still striving to provide the best entertainment experience possible for its fans.

The crowd roars as the ball comes to Lionel Messi, he takes a shot at goal, but it’s blocked by a defender. Soon after Gareth Bale hits the back of the net, but the score is overturned by VAR. By the time the final whistle blows neither team has been able to score and 93,246 passionate football fans walk away without a winner being decided. The last time fierce rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid faced off at Camp Nou was in 2019 – however this weekend’s ElClasico will take on a very different look.

While there will be no fans at the first ElClasico since the COVID-19 pandemic, La Liga is still striving to provide the best entertainment experience possible for its fans.

The first La Liga ElClasico was played in 1928 and the match between Barcelona and Real Madrid has grown to become one the of biggest rivalries in world sport.

The game itself features some of the best players in the world including Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos, Gerad Pique, Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Antoine Griezmann.

Then there is the work being done off the field by La Liga to promote the match internationally and provide the best coverage possible.

Red carpets bearing the competing clubs’ logos and an ElClasico logo have been placed at landmarks all over the globe. In Australia, a red carpet has been placed in the vicinity of the Sydney Opera House.

The other red carpets are located in the United States, United Kingdom, India, Senegal, Colombia and Tajikistan.

More than 100 ElClasico events have also been organised across the world. This includes watch parties in Vietnam, Dubai, South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya while a number of drive-in cinemas will be showing the match in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina.

Digital events have been planned for counties where COVID-19 restrictions are in place.

La Liga said that ElClasico provides entertainment like no other event.

“Though governmental health restrictions mean fans won’t be in the Camp Nou stands for this first ever ElClasico behind closed doors, LaLiga has ensured that fans around the world will still be able to come together for the greatest show in club football,” La Liga said in a media release.

“Everything is in place for the return of ElClasico, the best footballers in the world and the best fan experience possible.”

ElClasico is the most-watched club game in football with the upcoming match expected to reach around 650 million fans worldwide.

La Liga ambassador and former Real Madrid captain Fernando Hierro spoke of the game’s worldwide appeal at the La Liga Ambassadors Gala on Tuesday.

“Earlier, the Real Madrid-Barcelona matches had more domestic and national interest. But it started growing and became more international. It now attracts global interest, and it will be widely viewed,” Hierro said.

A series of technological innovations for the broadcast of this year’s La Liga ensure that the coverage of the match is of the highest standard. The innovations include 360 degree replay technology, a virtualised visual crowd, crowd noise and the use of drones to provide new camera angles.

The league had already been working on implementing some of these technologies but expanded to include the virtual crowd and crowd noise due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

La Liga’s head of audio-visual programming and production Roger Brosel said that the league wanted to offer the best audio-visual show for its fans.

“We have been working for four years now, trying to be innovative and having the aerial cameras and all the 360 replay technology, this year is just another step forward,” he said.

“We wanted to introduce these technological innovations related to virtual … to allow the fans to concentrate on the match and the way that things were being played without the negative impact caused by an empty stadium.”

“From our department what we are trying to do is be more attractive for people all around the world.”

For the 2020/21 La Liga season the new graphics and stats are powered by artificial intelligence and augmented reality.

La Liga uses its Media Coach platform to integrate data into the broadcast. The platform was originally only used by technical staff and coaches but is now also used to show tracking, performance, and match data during the broadcast.

The AR graphics and statistics appear on the ground during the broadcast to add to the match experience.

Roger Brosels also said that there had to be a balance between using data and graphics and letting viewers enjoy the match.

“Data is very interesting, and it contributes something but too much live data can distract viewers, or it can mean that the match experience isn’t as good.”

“The producing team are very sensitive to this issue, they introduce the data when it contributes something, adds something extra to the match storytelling.”

La Liga is also extending the ElClasico experience to the internet and social media. The league’s social media channels will be posting content in the build up to kick-off. An online fan zone will also be launched where fans will be able to win replica shirts, while La Liga’s website will also have an ElClasico section.

The teams are evenly matched heading into this weekend’s game, Real Madrid has 73 ElClasico wins while Barcelona trails on 72 wins – there have also been 35 draws.

ElClasico is being broadcast live in Australia on beIN Sports, the match is scheduled to be played this Sunday at 1am (AEDT).

Daniel Foley is a sports junior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and micro industry matters.

World-class speakers set for Australian Coaching Conference this weekend

The Australian Coaching Conference will take place this Saturday November 28, with a range of big-name football figures set to speak at the event.

Topping the list is legendary football coach Arsene Wenger who will present at the online conference alongside other notable speakers such as Mile Jedinak, Graham Arnold and Julie Foudy.

The event will be run by Football NSW, in conjunction with the FFA, Football Coaches Australia and a number of other Member Federations including Football Victoria, Football West, Northern NSW Football and Football South Australia.

Well-known football personalities Stephanie Brantz and Adam Peacock will co-host the conference this weekend.

“It is extremely pleasing to see that this conference has received such a positive response and that we will be going out to more than 1800 participants across the state, throughout the country and indeed around the world,” Football NSW Head of Football, Peter Hugg stated.

“More significantly, it is great that we have been able to explore various technology platforms that have come to the fore during the COVID19 pandemic, and introduce both online learning and a means by which we can upload content, both now for this weekend, but also for future reference over the next 12 months or so – I can only envisage that this will increase as we develop this concept more and more.

“I think the success of this weekend’s Conference demonstrates a certain ‘build it and they will come’ approach. That is, we have been fortunate to have some of the best football people in Australia and throughout the world present across a range of relevant key areas, and as we have packaged and priced the day accordingly, pleasingly the coaching fraternity have responded.” 

Hugg explained that with the calibre of names on show, the conference is set to be a must-see event.

“To think that we have names like Arsene Wenger, two former world champions in former US players, Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain, national team coaches Graham Arnold and Tom Sermanni, former Socceroos captain Mile Jedinak, Matildas Heather Garriock and Lisa DeVanna, Xavier Closas from the FC Barcelona Futsal program, representatives from FIFA’s Technical Department, and many more…it’s just a quality line up and augers well for a great day.”


La Liga and University of Canberra sign agreement

The La Liga Business School and the University of Canberra will sign an agreement this week to work on educational projects together.

The La Liga Business School and the University of Canberra will sign of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) this week to work on educational projects together.

The collaboration agreement is being finalised and will focus on the formation and education of professional football.

La Liga and the University of Canberra said that they aim to use their knowledge and networks to “help to improve the professionalism of professional sport and football.”

An online seminar this Thursday will be the first event held by La Liga and the University of Canberra under the collaboration agreement.

La Liga’s delegate in Australia and New Zealand, Glen Rolls, will be speaking at the webinar alongside Capital Football CEO Phil Brown and Villarreal C.F Business Development Manager Mar Llaneza.

‘Beyond 2020: Professional Football Strategy – A discussion with La Liga’ will be hosted and moderated by University of Canberra Academic and former FIFA Assistant Referee Allyson Flynn.

The representatives will discuss strategy, business expansion, international development and commercial risks for sporting organisations. The presentations will be followed by a Q&A session.

“We are very happy to have the opportunity to share the La Liga’s experience in Australia,” Director of La Liga Business School Jose Moya said.

“This agreement reaffirms the commitment of our organization to professionalise the sports sector and, in line with our slogan, ‘it’s not football, it’s La Liga,’ this positions us at the forefront of the industry, not only in terms of sports but also in educational standards.”

The La Liga Business School is the educational department of the Spanish league, it focuses on sport management and aims to professionalise the sports industry.

“The University of Canberra is a leader in Australian sport education and research,” University of Canberra’s, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health, Michelle Lincoln said.

“We are very excited to further our commitment to sport through collaborations with La Liga on this webinar and future events.”

‘Beyond 2020: Professional Football Strategy – A discussion with La Liga’ takes place on Thursday 26th November at 6pm. Registrations for the event are open via the University of Canberra website.

Football Queensland awards four teams with FQ Club Shields

Football Queensland have issued their first FQ Club Shields to four teams across the sunshine state.

The clubs to receive the accolade are Brisbane City, Brisbane Strikers, Lions FC and Gold Coast United.

The FQ Club Shield initiative was announced in June, serving as a visual representation of how clubs are performing based on a number of factors including extensive technical assessments.

“The FQ Club Shield initiative has been developed to improve accountability, transparency and visibility across a club’s technical performance and achievements while giving them a platform to celebrate success and growth in a meaningful way,” FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci said.

“We congratulate Brisbane City, Brisbane Strikers, Lions FC and Gold Coast United on completing their assessments in partnership with our FQ Club Development Unit and becoming the first clubs to receive their FQ Club Shields, with the remainder of National Premier Leagues Queensland Men’s, Women’s and Football Queensland Premier League clubs to receive theirs in the coming weeks,” he continued.

“FQ will continue to roll this initiative out across clubs as we support them in building capacity and improving technical development standards.

“Assessments are undertaken continually with star ratings provided annually. Up-to-date FQ Club Shields will be displayed on the Football Queensland website where players and parents can view them.”

The Club Development Unit critiques clubs on their planning, delivery and development outcome measures.

It also takes into account factors such as training and game observations, as well as an assessment of coaching standards.

“It is important to note that achieving any of the Gold, Silver or Bronze rating categories demonstrates considerable effort and consistent work and quality delivery by clubs’ administrators and technical staff,” FQ State Technical Director Gabor Ganczer said.

“The FQ Club Development Unit is continuing to ensure that both the players involved in these programs and the clubs themselves are well supported in their development.

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