90,000 spectators for a final, most competitions can only dream of. Still, the Kings League succeeded at its first attempt. The new competition, with Gerard Pique as the creator, quickly became a household name in Spain through a combination of former superstars and crazy rules.
Kosmos, Gerard Piqué’s company, does not shy away from thoroughly overhauling sports competitions. At the Davis Cup it was not very successful: after 5 years the cooperation was stopped.
But with the Kings League, a 7-a-side competition in which former footballers and streamers compete against each other, Piqué seems to have hit the mark.
On Sunday, Camp Nou was the setting for the first final and the Barcelona stadium was immediately completely sold out, good for 90,000 spectators. Half a million people also followed the event online.
Neymar in Ronaldinho to the promoters
Chances are you’ve never heard of the Kings League, but in Spain it’s incredibly popular.
Brazilian superstars such as Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Neymar did not want to miss the final and were present on Sunday in the stadium where they once shone.
Ronaldinho previously announced that he will join the project and will have his own team next year, now Neymar is also following his example.
The Kings League announced this in spectacular fashion. In the announcement video, Neymar “kidnapped” his former teammate Gerard Pique, the big man behind the project. He only wanted to release the Spaniard in exchange for his own team.
Big names, alternative rules
Why is the Kings League such a success?
The concept is simple. The brand new league consists of 12 teams competing for the title.
Each team is led by a “celebrity”: former top players Sergio Aguëro and Iker Casillas preside, as do popular streamers such as TheGrefg and Ibai llanos. They were allowed to compose their own team, including Chicarito and Capdevila.
Since January, the teams of 7 players met every Sunday near Barcelona airport. For the Final Four, the event moved to the legendary Camp Nou.
In addition to the well-known names, the other rules of the game mainly appeal to the general public.
This is how the kick-off goes in a rush, just like in water polo. Teams can make unlimited substitutions and a card means minutes on the penalty bench, like in hockey.
What is the same: there is a VAR, but the players consult it themselves.
Super Bowl as inspiration
No expense was spared for the final. The public was treated to concerts, shows and some notable guests.
The organizer was clearly inspired by the Super Bowl, the hugely popular final of the American NFL.
For example, just like in the Super Bowl, there was a live show during halftime. Chairman Piqué also presented a show, which featured ex-teammates David Villa, Sergio Agüero and Ronaldinho. Even Joan Laporta, president of FC Barcelona, was present.
For the sake of completeness: in the end it was “El Barrio”, the team of sports journalist Adri Contreras, who was able to win the final and thus become the first champion of the Kings League.