Mainstream Soccer Is ‘Scared’ of the Kings League

A photo of the Kings League banner with a message to Javier Tebas on Barcelona's Avenida Diagonal street.

Former FC Barcelona soccer participant Gerard Piqué unveiled an enormous banner in Barcelona on Friday throwing shade at mainstream soccer for being “scared” of his new Twitch soccer league, the Kings League, and its upcoming closing on the famed Camp Nou stadium. 

“The considered us filling up Camp Nou actually scares them,” the banner learn in Spanish and Catalan, a part of Piqué’s closing push to promote out the 99,000-seat Camp Nou stadium, the biggest in Europe, for the Kings League closing on March 26. 

Though the Kings League didn’t affirm the banner was geared toward anybody particularly—league officers informed Gizmodo that they had been leaving the interpretation as much as the general public—it’s fairly clear for anybody who’s been following the indoor soccer match that the message is geared toward Javier Tebas, president of the Spanish soccer league LaLiga. Piqué and Tebas have been clashing over the Kings League, which the previous soccer participant invented to make the game extra accessible and thrilling, and its impression for months.

Mainstream Spanish soccer calls the Kings League a “circus” 

Shortly after the Kings League’s debut on Jan. 1, Tebas dismissed Piqué’s new type of soccer as a competitor to conventional soccer on paid TV, regardless that LaLiga and the Kings League go head-to-head for viewers each Sunday. Whereas LaLiga broadcasts its video games on conventional paid TV, the Kings League streams its marathon six-hour-long sport days on Twitch, YouTube, and TikTok and presents them without cost. 

“It’s a circus, and it’s not about whether or not it might probably appeal to youthful viewers,” Tebas stated on Jan. 9. “As a circus, I just like the Kings League, however you may’t examine it to the soccer business.” 

Piqué wasn’t deterred. Hours after Tebas’ made his feedback to the press, he tweeted out, “Welcome to the Kings League circus!” and proceeded to supply a tease of a soccer star taking part in in that weekend’s sport, who he dressed as a mysterious clown. The participant turned out to be the retired Argentine striker Sergio “El Kun” Agüero.

Not like conventional soccer, the Kings League is certainly part-circus and part-soccer, with a sprinkle of video video games. Its 12 groups are headed by Twitch streamers and ex-professional soccer stars, and video games are made up of two 20-minute halves the place something can occur. Coaches can use “Secret Weapon” playing cards to achieve a bonus over the opposing workforce. Piqué additionally has a hand within the video games together with his “League” playing cards, which take a sure variety of gamers off the sector on the finish of the primary half.

Tebas confirmed his distain of the Kings League once more in mid-February when responding to critiques from Luis Rubiales, president of the Royal Spanish Soccer Federation, soccer’s governing physique in Spain. Rubiales stated the Kings League was “a unique and entertaining format” that wanted to be revered, including that modifications wanted to be made in conventional soccer’s format to shock audiences. Tebas responded drily and with unabashed scorn.

“Rubiales’ evaluation is that the league ought to observe the instance of an occasion led by streamers the place they gown up like clowns,” he acknowledged.

The Kings League prepares for its closing at Camp Nou on March 26

The strain between Piqué and Tebas has hung over the Kings League’s inaugural season as the previous soccer star strives to show that his new imaginative and prescient of soccer can attraction to giant audiences and appeal to younger folks. Thus far, the Kings League has seen huge success. 

Its Twitch channel was the highest channel in Spain in January and February, in line with the Spanish streaming tracker TVTOP España. As well as, on Feb. 26, the Kings League introduced that greater than two million folks had watched the dwell debut of Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldinho, who performed for Spanish streamer Ibai Llanos’ “Porcinos FC” workforce. 

On Friday, Piqué and Kings League officers revealed the leisure lineup for the ultimate at Camp Nou on Chup Chup Kings, their streaming present for league bulletins. Apart from face offs between its closing 4 groups, the occasion will function performances from Argentine artists Lali and Tiago PZK. Ever the showman, Piqué additionally introduced that the Kings League would attempt to break the Guinness world file for the most individuals sporting costume masks, which stands at 30,050, and would hand out free masks with the Kings League emblem at Camp Nou on March 26. 

Promoting out the Camp Nou stadium with a three-month previous Twitch soccer league would little question be a win for Piqué and provides him the proof he wants to point out mainstream soccer that the Kings League is a drive to be reckoned with. As of Friday, greater than 60,000 tickets had already been bought.

“There is no such thing as a stadium like Camp Nou,” Piqué stated in his Friday pitch to promote tickets on Chup Chup Kings, set to dramatic music. “The finalists are going to placed on a present that the town of Barcelona goes to recollect. You may’t miss it.”

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