This is how Gerard Piqué’s Kings League eats up Catalan football

Barcelona“We spoke to our players who participate in the Kings League and they were asked not to play in the competition because the club considered it incompatible”, they explain to ARA from Santboià, who currently plays in Primera Catalana. The Baix Llobregat team saw how in the first duel of 2023, against Europa B, three players from their squad were absent because the match coincided with them, played on Sunday, January 8 at 4 p.m. with the defeat of Santboià by 4-1, with their respective Kings League matchups. This 7-a-side soccer competition with alternative rules, created by Gerard Piqué with the participation of several streamersis taking place on Sunday afternoons with spectacular audiences across Twitch.

Santboià is one of the many clubs in Catalan football that have seen how, in the middle of the season and without warning, they have lost members who prefer the new tournament to federated football for life. Other clubs such as Castelldefels, Júpiter, Granollers, Santfeliuenc or Valldoreix are also suffering the consequences. “The business of the Kings League has indirectly hit a Jupiter in low hours with the loss of two players at a crucial moment,” explained in a Twitter thread the Reducte GrisGrana, an animation group of the historic Jupiter, which now competes in the Second Catalan. “We understand that the precariousness of club football in Segona Catalana and the offer of amateur players at low prices favor the flight of players, but we cannot justify it. It is disrespectful that there is no minimum commitment”, he added.

In other cases, players are trying to make the two competitions compatible. “We have three footballers in the Kings League: two goalkeepers and a field player. And, for the moment, the three continue”, they report from Granollers, which competes in the Primera Catalana. The highest division of Catalan football is the most affected by the Kings League, which chose the base of its squads in a draft which was the final cut of the 11,000 players who registered to play it. Only 120 reached the target. “I don’t think we can do much, especially without news from the Catalan Federation,” says the Santboià source. “The FCF is fully aware of the situation, which ultimately affects its business model and its structure as the regulatory body for football in Catalonia. If anyone can set up their league and remove players without any prior notice or compensation…”, he adds.

FCF takes no action

The ARA has asked the FCF’s board of directors, still chaired by Joan Soteras (the May elections will be repeated on February 13 due to irregularities in the voting) if it plans to take measures, and the answer has been negative . “The club has the right not to cancel. They are the same clubs that can negotiate. The FCF cannot get involved in the day-to-day governance of the clubs”. But from Santboià they say that “not giving a player leave makes sense if he wants to leave for another federated club”. On the other hand, “to play the Kings League they don’t need the team’s resignation because the competition does not depend on the FCF”.

The success that the Kings League is having has caused Piqué and Joan Laporta to announce last week that the final four it will be played in public at the Camp Nou on March 26. “I’m meeting players, coaches and content creators and a very nice community is being created in which things can emerge according to the interest that each one has”, Jacobo Fernández, a player from El Barrio in the Kings League and Valldoreix in Segona Catalana. He has a company, Tiki Taka, which is dedicated to managing events, especially soccer leagues 7. Fernández assures that “most players are trying to combine the Kings League with their federated team”, as in his case. But he admits that he is having a hard time because Valldoreix precisely plays its home games on Sunday afternoons. “I train three times with Valldoreix and twice with El Barrio”, he reports.

Pol Font, primary education teacher and coach of Los Troncos and the Damm cadets, has it better. “La Damm hasn’t given me any problems to combine it”, he says. And he understands the players who have taken the step of leaving federated football. “In the Kings League they have a big showcase that can bring them better wages and better possibilities in the future”, he argues. For the time being, Kosmos, the organizing company, considers them as its employees and pays their salaries.

Without pavilion

The Kings League is contested at the ZAL pavilion, located in the port of Barcelona, ​​which is owned together with the Generalitat de Catalunya. This was the home for ten years of the Terra Negra Sports Club, of the Tercera Catalana futsal league. Overnight, however, this winter it was left without a pavilion. “After the tweets of complaint made by one of our players (@GuillerGuti9), we changed the contact person of the Kings League and the new one helped us in the search for pavilions”, explains Marisol Duque, the technical director of the club In the meantime, the team trained and played on the outdoor court of the Institut Consell de Cent in the Poble-sec neighborhood. In the first match he had to play there, it rained and was suspended. But it already has a new track in the facilities of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC).

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