“Green and white passion”: the historic connection between Real Betis and Glasgow Celtic

The two clubs share the same colours thanks to the historical figure of Manuel Ramos Asensio. They also share incredible fanbases, and have often interacted on social media in recent years.

The Benito Villamarín and Celtic Park may be 2,000 kilometres apart, but there is a connection between Real Betis and Glasgow Celtic that is so strong that it has endured over the years. Above all, these two Spanish and Scottish sides have something very visible in common: their green and white colours, uncommon in the world of football.

Let’s take a ride back in history, to over a century ago and the world of Manuel Ramos Asensio. Raised in Andalusia, he was sent to learn English in the southwestern Scottish city of Dumfries when he was a youngster. From there, he often travelled to Glasgow to watch Celtic play, making several close friends at the club in the process.

After returning to Andalusia and playing an important role in the early years of Real Betis’ existence in the early 1900s, Manuel organised for green and white fabric to be sent to Seville when Real Betis needed new shirts. Before then they’d usually sported blue and white jerseys, but then switched to green and white, the colours of Manuel’s favourite Scottish team and also, fortunately, the colours of the Andalusian flag.

In order to stand out, Real Betis wore green and white as vertical stripes, unlike the horizontal hoops of Celtic. In a match against Málaga in 2017, though, Real Betis switched to hoops for a one-off match that was taking place on February 28th to mark el Dia de Andalucia, ‘Andalusia day.’

Celtic sent a message of congratulations to Real Betis, remembering their historic connection. In fact, that was one of many messages of friendship that the two clubs have exchanged over social media in recent years. They’ve even nominated each other for various viral social media challenges.  

Despite their long history and European pedigree, these sides had never actually met on the pitch… until now: they are set to play in the Europa League this week! It means, among other things, a special return for Celtic to Seville, the city where they played their most recent European final: a dramatic 3-2 at the UEFA Cup final defeat to Jose Mourinho’s FC Porto back in 2003.  

Such a fixture is a truly special one given how passionate the fanbases of these two clubs are. Their two stadiums are of almost identical capacity, of just over 60,000, and both are able to fill almost every seat for each home match. The atmospheres at the Benito Villamarín and Celtic Park rank easily among the most special in their respective leagues and it will be an incredible occasion when these two clubs with so much in common will finally meet on the pitch. That will be a moment that would make Manuel Ramos Asensio very proud indeed.

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LaLiga Santander Matchday 5 preview: Valencia CF vs Real Madrid the pick of the bunch as LaLiga gears up for goals

LaLiga Santander Matchday 5 kicks off this Friday with a fixture list guaranteeing entertainment and history, with classic showdowns such as Valencia CF vs Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid vs Athletic Club on the cards.

The action gets going in Vigo on Friday night with RC Celta hosting Cádiz CF. With both these sides yet to taste victory and with both teams currently inside the bottom five, this is already a huge match as the Galician and Andalusian clubs look to jumpstart their seasons.

Getafe CF are also desperate for a positive result after starting the campaign with four defeats from four, making their short trip to take on Rayo Vallecano on Saturday lunchtime a vitally important one. If the Azulones are to take a point or more back to the south of Madrid then they’ll have to stop Radamel Falcao, who is expected to make his debut for Rayo. When the Colombian striker steps onto the pitch in front of the home fans, that’ll be quite an occasion.

At 4.15pm CEST comes a classic of Spanish football: Atlético Madrid host Athletic Club. These two institutions have similar names and wear similar colours for a reason; the capital city club was actually created as a sister club to the Bilbao side at the beginning of the 20th century. Their recent meetings have been very tight, with two victories each and one draw from their past five. It should be another fascinating duel on Saturday.

There are a couple of regional rivalries to conclude Saturday’s action, as Elche CF welcome Valencian Community neighbours Levante UD to the Estadio Martínez Valero. CA Osasuna then make the one-hour trip to face D. Alavés at Mendizorrotza. With fans back in the stands for both of these local clashes, passionate atmospheres should be expected.

RCD Mallorca vs Villarreal CF is the first Sunday fixture and will have several exciting young talents on show. The islanders have Kang-in Lee and Takefusa Kubo in their ranks, as well as Fer Niño, who is actually on loan from Villarreal. The Yellow Submarine themselves have the 18-year-old Yeremi Pino in their ranks, one of the rising stars of Spanish football and a man who’ll be looking to make a mark on this Sunday lunchtime fixture.

Real Sociedad and Sevilla FC meet next in a battle of two teams who’ll have been in European action in the midweek before this game. Both these clubs are aiming for another year of European qualification at least, making these three points extra valuable. Real Betis, another of Spain’s European representatives, then host RCD Espanyol in what will be a match of reunions. Former Espanyol striker Borja Iglesias now leads the line for the Green and Whites, while Loren Morón could earn his first start for the Catalan club after his summer switch from Betis.

At 9pm CEST on Sunday night comes the blockbuster clash of the weekend as Valencia CF face Real Madrid at Mestalla. This is one of the most entertaining fixtures in all of European football, with dramatic moments in recent years such as Valencia CF’s 4-1 win last season courtesy of three Carlos Soler penalties or the Real Madrid equaliser the season before when goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois went up for a late corner and set up Karim Benzema’s last-gasp equaliser. Over the past 14 years, this fixture has produced an average of 4.4 goals per game for eight Real Madrid wins, six Valencia CF wins and three draws. With both these sides – who sit joint top on 10 points – scoring and conceding goals to start 2021/22, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be another epic encounter this Sunday night.

The Matchday 5 slate of fixtures then reaches its conclusion at 9pm CEST on Monday night at the Camp Nou, where FC Barcelona meet Granada CF. Former Barça assistant coach Robert Moreno is now in charge of Granada and his group of players know what it’s like to win at the Camp Nou, having triumphed 2-1 there back in April towards the end of last season. Under the floodlights, it’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top this time around.

Watch LaLiga Santander live this weekend on BeINSports

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LaLiga is the first major football league to partner with Socios.com, the leading provider of blockchain solutions for the sports industry and official partner to 60+ global leading sport brands worldwide
LaLiga and Socios.com will work together to create new opportunities for the league’s more than 800 million global fans to actively engage with their favorite players and clubs and access unique rewards and once-in-a-lifetime VIP opportunities
Madrid, September 14h, 2021.- LaLiga and Socios.com, the leading provider of blockchain-driven Fan Engagement solutions for the sports and entertainment industry, have announced an agreement that will see the creators of Fan Tokens become Global Fan Engagement Partner of Spain’s top tier football league.
Socios.com and LaLiga will work together to create new opportunities for the league’s more than 800 million global fans to engage actively with the brand through the platform’s cutting-edge blockchain technology solutions.
This partnership will give LaLiga Santander fans the chance to get closer than ever to their heroes, regardless of where in the world they are based, and to access unique rewards such as official products, signed jerseys, free tickets and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
Driven by the central belief that transitioning passive fans into active fans is essential to the future of sport, Socios.com is a direct-to-consumer (D2C) platform that leverages blockchain technology to provide the world’s leading sporting organizations with the tools to engage with and monetize their  global fanbases.
Since its creation, in 2019, Socios.com has been enhancing Fan Experience across the global sports industry through Fan Tokens, collectible digital assets that provide owners with access to voting rights in polls, VIP rewards, exclusive promotions, AR-enabled features, chat forums, games and competitions on Socios.com.
Over 40 global leading sport organisations across 20 different countries and seven different sports have launched their official Fan Token on the Socios.com app, home to a growing global community of nearly 1.3M sports fans. The list includes LaLiga Santander clubs FC Barcelona, Atlético de Madrid, Valencia CF and Levante UD, as well as other football giants across the globe, Formula 1 teams, esports organisations and mixed martial arts brands, among others. 

Fan Tokens have consolidated as one of the fastest growing revenue streams for the sports industry, generating over $200 million in profits for Socios.com’s global network in a little over two years since the first token was released. 
The partnership with LaLiga, the first major football league to join the platform, sets a new milestone for Socios.com and strengthens its position in Spain, a strategic country in which the company is about to inaugurate its new offices. The agreement also reasserts the position of Socios.com as the global leaders of blockchain-driven fan engagement solutions for the sports industry.
Alexandre Dreyfus, Founder and CEO of Socios.com, said: “We are very excited and proud to be partnering with LaLiga, one of the biggest brands in global sports, with over 800 million fans around the world, and home to legendary clubs that have helped write the history of football.”
“The LaLiga partnership will allow us to take another step forward in our mission to bring about a new era of global fan engagement, where fans are no longer spectators, but empowered, active participants”.
“It is no coincidence that LaLiga has become the first major European football league to partner with Socios.com. Over the past few years they have earned a reputation for being one of the most innovative brands in sports, leading the way for organisations worldwide in terms of embracing innovation and leveraging new technologies. This partnership is yet another demonstration of their boldness and leadership”.
“At LaLiga we are pleased to partner with Socios.com, one of the global leaders in fan engagement solutions for the sports industry. Thanks to this agreement, all our fans around the world will be able to connect more actively with their favorite players and teams. For us it’s a way of getting closer to them and offering them new experiences”, said Oscar Mayo, Executive Director of LaLiga.
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The Asian players in LaLiga for 2021/22

Some of the top players from Asia and Oceania will be playing their football in LaLiga Santander and in LaLiga SmartBank this season.

LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank, Spain’s top two divisions, are increasingly competitive and are home to players from all over the world. This includes Asia and Oceania, two continents that are, little by little, having a greater presence in Spanish football. Players such as Takashi Inui, Ki Sung-Yueng, Yoshinori Muto and Shinji Kagawa have wowed Spanish fans in recent years and LaLiga will once again have some of the top Asian players this coming season, as well as another Asian Football Confederation (AFC) player in the form of a returning Australian. Here, we outline who these players are and why they’re worth watching.

Wu Lei: The most experienced Asian player in Spanish football

Chinese striker Wu Lei arrived at RCD Espanyol in 2019 from Shanghai SIPG, having won everything there was to win in his home country. As one of the most prolific scorers of Chinese football, the forward only needed five matches to net his first goal with the Pericos and had three by the end of that first half-season. In the 2019/20 campaign, he bagged four more goals, including a dramatic late equaliser in a Barcelona derby, as the fans at the RCDE Stadium celebrated a 2-2 draw against FC Barcelona.

When RCD Espanyol went down to LaLiga SmartBank, Wu Lei showed his commitment to the club’s project by staying in Catalonia and helping the team earn a bounce-back promotion. At the end of August 2021, he celebrated his 100th match with the club and, at 29 years of age, he brings experience and maturity to a squad looking to consolidate its position in Spain’s top division. Above all, Wu Lei’s opportunism and directness on the pitch are attributes worth getting excited about.

Takefusa Kubo: The Japanese talent who gives RCD Mallorca an edge

After already playing for RCD Mallorca in 2019/20, when he was just 18, Takefusa Kubo has returned to the island club at the age of 20. As he did the last time, the Japanese winger is playing for RCD Mallorca on loan from Real Madrid, but this time he has even more top-flight experience after also spending time at Villarreal CF and Getafe CF last campaign, helping the former get off to a great start in their triumphant Europa League campaign and scoring the goal that secured survival for the latter. The Japan international is at the level where he can start matches for the Bermellones and give them an edge.

After coming through the academy at FC Barcelona, Kubo has the potential to become a world-class star, as he recently proved at the Olympic Games as he led his national team to the semi-finals and fourth place with three goals and an assist in six matches. This season, after just turning 20, he’ll aim to put on a show by demonstrating his quality.

Kang-in Lee: The South Korean wonder kid swapping Valencia for Mallorca

One of the top transfers of the 2021 summer window was RCD Mallorca’s acquisition of Kang-in Lee. After arriving at Valencia CF at 10 years of age and working his way to the senior squad over the following decade, the South Korean midfielder has left Mestalla in search of more opportunities to show LaLiga Santander fans exactly what he can do.

With great tactical awareness, he is the kind of player all coaches would love to have and RCD Mallorca fans are excited to see what kind of partnership he can strike up with Kubo. The Japanese and South Korean players are two of the best young talents in LaLiga Santander and now they’re on the same team.

Gaku Shibasaki: The ‘Japanese Iniesta’ who’ll fight for promotion with CD Leganés

There is also an Asian presence in LaLiga SmartBank, Spain’s second division. One of the standout players at this level is Gaku Shibasaki, who first hit the headlines in Spain by scoring two goals in the 2016 Club World Cup final when he was playing for Kashima Antlers, forcing extra time in that match against Real Madrid, even if Los Blancos ultimately won that title.

The midfielder has been labelled ‘the Japanese Iniesta’ and he even went in the opposite direction of the Spanish legend. Shibasaki has now played for CD Tenerife, Getafe CF, RC Deportivo and CD Leganés in Spain, now staying with Lega for another season as they aim to win promotion back to LaLiga Santander, after coming so close last year. With over 100 matches in Spanish football, he is already experienced at this level.

Shinji Okazaki: A Premier League champion at FC Cartagena

When Leicester City won their shock Premier League title in 2016, Shinji Okazaki was a part of that success. After leaving the English club in 2019, the veteran Japanese forward moved to Spain and joined SD Huesca, spending two years there as they won promotion in 2019/20 and as they then competed at LaLiga Santander level in 2020/21.

Now, the Japanese legend has joined FC Cartagena, returning to LaLiga SmartBank. Aged 35 and with experience of playing in Spain, England and Germany, Okazaki should be a veteran presence in the FC Cartagena dressing room.

Mat Ryan: The only Australian in Spanish football

Mat Ryan has come from the other side of the world to play in LaLiga Santander. The Australian goalkeeper has signed with Real Sociedad, ready for a second stint in Spanish football after forming part of Valencia CF’s squad between 2015 and 2017.

After spending time with Genk, Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal, Ryan has returned to Spain and has signed with Real Sociedad to become the new backup to starting goalkeeper Álex Remiro. Having been at two World Cups and two Asian Cups, Ryan is an experienced shot-stopper.

David Alaba and other players of Asian origin

As well as the footballers mentioned above, there are some other players with links to Asia. That includes new Real Madrid player David Alaba, whose mother is from the Philippines, even if he is an international player for Austria. His move to Los Blancos was clearly one of the signings of the summer. 

Another interesting story is that of Taichi Hara, a Japanese forward on Deportivo Alavés’ books who has gone out on loan to Sint-Truidense in Belgium. The 22-year-old will hope to return to the Spanish side after gaining experience abroad. Then there’s Wadi Ibrahim Suzuki, an 18-year-old Japanese forward who has recently signed for Valencia CF’s youth teams, with his arrival creating quite a buzz.

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LaLiga presents new ElClasico brand identity

The world’s most iconic club match will now have its own logo and visual identity

Rivalry, strength, passion, technology, innovation, dynamism, entertainment and globality are among this new image’s main attributes

Madrid, 13 September 2021.- LaLiga has created a logo and brand identity for ElClasico, the match that pits FC Barcelona and Real Madrid against each other each season, with the aim of giving one of the most iconic and popular sporting showdowns on the planet a unique and highly recognisable visual identity.

The branding project’s aim is to reflect the DNA of what this legendary encounter symbolises: rivalry, strength, passion, technology, innovation, dynamism, entertainment and globality.

Always at the cutting edge of innovation and entertainment, this new image will be yet another asset in LaLiga’s bid to enhance the brand value of its competition and its clubs, which can be featured at all international events and activations held around this match as part of LaLiga’s internationalisation strategy.

This initiative shows LaLiga to be looking to the future once again, working more closely with clubs to promote the competition and its most iconic matches, including not only ElClasico but also El Gran Derbi, El Derbi de Madrid, El Derbi Vasco, among others.

Watched in every corner of the planet, ElClasico is LaLiga’s blockbuster par excellence that puts life on hold; it is the most watched club match globally. An encounter that everybody watches, that brings everybody together, whether they like football or not, and a cultural touch point that transcends borders.

LaLiga is preparing a major launch of this new visual identity to coincide with the next ElClasico, set to be played in October. It will be implemented across all media outlets and actions that LaLiga rolls out, both nationally and internationally, through promotions, digital and media campaigns, international media activations, press conferences, and international events.

Just last week, LaLiga won the International Creativity Award at this year’s Sports Industry Awards for its unique ElClasico campaign, highlighting its diverse and highly adaptable events in all four corners of the world during the pandemic. The award was also a reflection of LaLiga’s wider work in promoting ElClasico in recent years.

The design of ElClasico’s identity

This is a groundbreaking, young, exciting, football-loving, and visual image that will connect with a global audience and especially among a young demographic. Its style is reminiscent of the digital environments popular among younger audiences and their passion for eSports, TV shows and urban culture. A visual identity that conveys not only the today, but also the tomorrow of a great sporting and entertainment show that brings the world to a standstill for 90 minutes.

ElClasico’s new logo draws its inspiration from the shared emotion that exists between footballers and fans the world over. It is an inclusive brand that does not set a distance between the stars and their supporters, but rather brings them closer together and helps fans feel that they are very much an integral part of the game.

Custom typography has been used to create this new identity, with an energetic style, sharp angles and verticality to express movement, dynamism, and its digital essence.

The symbol that separates Real Madrid and FC Barcelona will replace the usual “vs.” and will be the icon that best represents ElClasico. It represents rivalry, strength, and confrontation, evoking the competitive spirit of both teams.

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LaLiga Santander Matchday 4 preview: The weekend of Real Madrid’s return to the Bernabéu and Griezmann’s second Atlético debut

LaLiga Santander returns this weekend with Matchday 4 of the 2021/22 season. There are eight fixtures taking place over those three days -from Saturday to Monday-, while two of the round’s matches have been postponed to a later date (Sevilla FC vs FC Barcelona and Villarreal CF vs D Alaves), and there are several storylines to look out for. From Real Madrid’s return to the Bernabéu after a 560-day absence to the debuts of several summer signings, this promises to be a thrilling weekend of Spanish football.

The first fixture is a Saturday evening meeting of two teams who score and concede a lot of goals, with UD Levante hosting Rayo Vallecano. So far this season, UD Levante’s matches have produced 3.0 goals per game on average and the capital city side’s games have produced 2.67. That places both these teams’ matches in the top third for total goals, so there could be fireworks in the city that just celebrated the famous Falles Festival.

Later on Saturday night comes a showdown between two of the youngest squads of LaLiga Santander, as Athletic Club take on RCD Mallorca. Both sides have several rising stars who’ll be on show, such as Jon Morcillo, Dani Vivian and Oihan Sancet in the home team and Takefusa Kubo, Kang-in Lee and Fer Niño for the visitors.

After the two matches on Saturday, there are four more games on Sunday, starting with RCD Espanyol vs Atlético Madrid at 14:00 CEST. Antoine Griezmann could make his re-debut in this away trip, after re-joining Los Rojiblancos on deadline day. Having already scored 131 goals in 257 appearances for Atleti, the Frenchman will be looking to add to that in his first match back, as he takes on RCD Espanyol in Barcelona, the city he has called home for the past two years.

Later on Sunday afternoon, CA Osasuna welcome Valencia CF to El Sadar for a battle between two sides who have started the new season undefeated. In Pamplona, there is great excitement at the attacking resources CA Osasuna have put together for this season, with Chimy Ávila, Ante Budimir, Kike García and Rubén García all available to coach Jagoba Arrasate. At Valencia CF, they’ve started the season well too and summer signing Marcos André could earn his first start, while Carlos Soler will hope to keep up his good form after starting the season in scintillating form for both Los Che and the Spanish national team.

Next, Real Sociedad make the trip to the other side of the Iberian Peninsula to take on Cádiz CF. In this match, we might see the birth of La Real’s new Scandinavian strike partnership, as Swede Alexander Isak and Norwegian Alexander Sørloth return from international duty to lead the Basque side’s attack.

At 21:00 CEST on Sunday night, there will be an emotional return to the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu for Real Madrid. With the pandemic and with redevelopment work having taken place over the past year and a half, Los Blancos haven’t played there since 1st March 2020. They’ll take on RC Celta in front of a limited number of fans and, even if there is a lot of focus on the setting, the match promises to be a fun one too, as the past 10 meetings between these teams have produced an average of 4.1 goals per match.

Monday brings two more LaLiga Santander matches, starting with Getafe CF vs Elche CF. These are two teams who only just avoided relegation last season and two teams who made some late summer signings. In this fixture, they’ll hope the new arrivals can make an immediate impression, such as Jorge Cuenca and Jonathan Silva for Getafe CF and Javier Pastore and Lucas Pérez for the visitors.

An Andalusian derby then concludes the weekend’s action, as Granada CF host Real Betis on Monday night at 22:00 CEST. Real Betis won their last meeting 2-1, but the Nazaríes had gone undefeated over the previous five clashes. There’s always a special atmosphere when there’s a regional derby, making this a great way to cap this weekend’s slate of fixtures.

Watch LaLiga Santander live this weekend on BeINSports

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After 560 days away, Real Madrid return to the Santiago Bernabéu

Real Madrid have been redeveloping their home ground over the past year and a half, but will finally return this Sunday to take on RC Celta

This Sunday, for the first time in a year and a half, there will be a matchday buzz in the Chamartín area of Madrid. The Estadio Santiago Bernabéu hasn’t hosted any event since Real Madrid defeated FC Barcelona 2-0 in ElClásico on 1st March 2020 and now, 560 days later, Los Blancos will take on RC Celta at their historic home, at 21:00 CEST on 12th September. 

When the coronavirus pandemic struck, temporarily halting the football calendar and then preventing fans from attending matches, Real Madrid decided to bring forward the redevelopment work that they had planned for the Bernabéu. If no football stadium was going to be able to host supporters for a significant period of time, Real Madrid concluded that it made sense to use that time to start with the construction work that they’d planned to carry out over the next several off-seasons.

As such, Los Blancos fulfilled their final few 2019/20 home fixtures and all of their 2020/21 home matches at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano in their Valdebebas training complex. This was the stadium that had been used by the B team and, even if it’s a smaller ground, it is a state-of-the-art venue that has 14 booths for TV and radio, dozens more seats for the written press and a media centre. There was enough space for up to 30 cameras to be installed, meaning that the broadcasts of Real Madrid’s LaLiga Santander matches were still of the highest quality.

During their brief stay at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, Real Madrid clinched the 2019/20 LaLiga Santander title, as well as winning important fixtures such as ElClásico or the Madrid derby. In total, including matches in all competitions, Los Blancos played 31 home fixtures in Valdebebas between football’s return and now, for a record of 23 wins, four draws and four defeats. That made for a win percentage of 74%, only slightly below Real Madrid’s all-time home win percentage of 77%.

Now, after playing their first three fixtures of the 2021/22 LaLiga Santander season on the road, it’s finally time for Los Blancos’ homecoming and, even if there is still limited capacity due to the remaining coronavirus restrictions and the fact that fans are returning gradually, there is great excitement ahead of this weekend’s clash with RC Celta Vigo.

Summer signings David Alaba and Eduardo Camavinga will be able to experience the home support of the Bernabéu for the first time, while other stars such as Karim Benzema, Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos can savour the cheers of their fanbase for the first time in over 18 months.

Construction work is still taking place at the stadium, as the redevelopment project is a significant one and won’t be finished for some time yet. However, Real Madrid have been able to accelerate the process as they construct what club president Florentino Pérez has said will be “the best stadium in the world”.

The new-look Bernabéu will bring increased security, comfort and accessibility for fans, while it will also boast a new roof, a new exterior and new spaces, such as convention rooms, stores, car parking and a new interactive museum. Most importantly, it’ll have the special atmosphere that exists at Real Madrid matches, starting from this Sunday.

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LaLiga partners with Sorare to enter the world of NFTs

LaLiga is the first of the top 5 world football leagues to sign a major NFT partnership

It will allow LaLigo to expand the Clubs’ international brands by reaching new fans and creating a new revenue stream

Sorare is a marketplace to trade digital cords from more than 180 football clubs, and has over 500,000 registered users on the platform

Madrid, September 9th 2021. Sorare, the fantasy football platform, has today announced a partnership with Spain’s LaLiga to launch non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for all of its players, creating new revenue streams for LaLiga Clubs via a new category of licenses.

Thanks to this offering, LaLiga fans, collectors and fantasy football players will for the first time be able to freely trade and play with digital cards of players from LaLiga. Sorare’s mission is to build “the game within the game” and to give fans the platform to celebrate, share and own their football passion.

The partnership represents a major milestone for Sorare as it strikes a deal for the first time with one of the biggest leagues in the world, home to world-class football clubs such as Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Atlético de Madrid, Villarreal CF, Valencia CF, FC Seville and Real Sociedad, among many others. Sorare plans to partner with every one of the world’s top 20 football leagues by the end of 2022.

The partnership, which covers both LaLiga Santander and LaLiga Smartbank, is a significant development for LaLiga as it moves into the NFT space for the first time, highlighting the global interest in the fast-growing NFT card space which has sold more than $130M in cards this year.

Javier Tebas, President of LaLiga, commented:

“At LoLiga we are always looking [or innovative ways to o|fer our [ans new and exciting experiences and to broaden the appeal o[ our competition, the greatest in the world. This partnership with Sorare, the most exciting sports NFT projects today, enables us to reach new audiences globally and gives existing [ons additional ways they can get involved with the players and the cluhs they love.”

Nicolas Julia, CEO and co-founder of Sorare commented:

“NFTs are the [uture o[gIo6aI sports [ondom because they allow [ans to come together and to [eel ownership o[ the sports they love.

“This partnership isn’t just a sign o[ Sorare’s growing leadership in the NFT sports space, it is a major signal o[ intent fry the sporting world that it sees Sorare’s unique ability to connect [ans with sports through NFTs as a crucial port o[ their plans [or the [uture.

“LoLigo is one o[ the hest leagues in the world, home to some o[ the most exciting cluhs and[oothollers on earth. We are very proud that they have 6ecome our[irst ever league partnership, and we ore looking [orward to working together in the years ahead.”

Sorare cards are NFTs, meaning each card is unique, scarce, and its ownership can be publicly verifiable via the blockchain. Sorare’s combination of NFT technology with sports cards and a fantasy game is the leading next-gen offering within football, and backed by football legends including Gerard Piqué, Antoine Griezmann and Rio Ferdinand. Through the collecting, owning and trading of limited edition digital collectibles, Sorare has created a unique game experience where users can own their game, build real-world connections and protect and control their assets in a secure space.

Sorare’s next-generation gaming experience will help LaLiga and its clubs to expand their international brands by reaching new audiences of fans, including crypto- enthusiasts in the US and Asia, where Sorare is growing strongly, and fantasy gamers across the globe. The partnership opens up a new revenue stream for LaLiga clubs by creating an entirely new licensing category: NFTs.

The partnership means that Sorare now has the majority of the top 100 football clubs in the world under license, including global clubs such as Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain FC, and Juventus FC.

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LaLiga Santander is back to take centre stage like never before

New world-class talent, the most advanced broadcast technology in the world and the long-awaited return of fans to stadiums across Spain have welcomed in the 2021/22 LaLiga season.

8 September 2021.- The new 2021/22 LaLiga Santander season is well underway. The most competitive of Europe’s top five leagues, featuring the clubs with the most European trophies in history, the most technical football in the world, and the game’s biggest stars are back for the 91st campaign in the competition’s history.

This season sees the long-awaited return of fans to LaLiga stadiums across Spain, their passionate and emotional voices the perfect complement to the spectacular football being played out on the field. And with Colombian Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Camilo penning the official football-infused song for season, the stage is all set for the symphony of the beautiful game to take centre stage like never before.

A myriad of storylines set up this LaLiga Santander season as one of the most fascinating in recent memory. Will Atletico de Madrid repeat their historic title winning run from last campaign? Can Real Madrid, FC Barcelona or even Sevilla FC knock the reigning champions off the top? Is this the year that the likes of Real Sociedad, Europa League champions Villarreal CF, Real Betis, or Athletic finally break into the top level of contenders?

As with each new season, LaLiga Santander welcomes three new teams into the fold for the 2021/22 season in the shape of RCD Espanyol de Barcelona, RCD Mallorca and Rayo Vallecano – three very familiar faces to LaLiga fans around the world.

And it won’t be just these new teams that will be gracing LaLiga Santander this season; we’ll also have a host of exciting new signings to join the likes of Karim Benzema, Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez and Jan Oblak. Stars of the global game have queued up to make the move to Spain over the past few months, including David Alaba and Eduardo Camavinga to Real Madrid, Memphis Depay and Sergio Agüero to FC Barcelona, and the in-demand Copa America champion Rodrigo De Paul to champions Atletico de Madrid. Over at Sevilla FC, Erik Lamela has already made an instant impact while the addition of Rafa Mir, one of the most highly coveted young strikers in European football, will strengthen Julen Lopetegui’s aspirations to break into genuine title contention this season.

Other new names heading to pastures new within LaLiga include Takefusa Kubo, the prodigious young Japanese international who has swapped Real Madrid for RCD Mallorca on loan to link up with South Korean rising star Kang-in Lee, who has joined from Valencia CF. Algeria vice-captain Aïssa Mandi left Real Betis for Villarreal CF, while Granada replaced the Levante UD-bound Roberto Soldado with Colombian international Carlos Bacca.

And don’t forget the plethora of young talent which abounds across Spanish football this season. The highly talented 18-year-old Pedri returns for a second season at FC Barcelona fresh from being named the Best Young Player of Euro 2020, while the likes of Frenkie de Jong, Jules Kounde, Joao Felix, Diego Lainez, Alexander Isak, Mikel Oyarzabal, Samuel Chukwueze, Vinicius Jr, and of course the aforementioned Camavinga are all already established international superstars before the age of 25.

The season kicked off on August 13th, with Valencia CF vs Getafe CF the first of 380 unmissable fixtures through a ten-month campaign. The big games will come thick and fast too, with the historic Basque (October), Barcelona (November), Seville (November), Valencia (December) and Madrid (December) derbies scheduled for the coming months. And ElClasico, the clash which pits together Real Madrid and FC Barcelona in the most watched club match in world football, returns on the weekend of October 24th.  These most high-profile games will be played with PUMA’s all new ADRENALINA match ball design, while all other matches will feature the uniquely Japanese anime inspired ACCELERATE design.

International influencers such as Bruno Gagliasso, Khabi, CZN Burak, and Andres Iniesta, from as far afield as Mexico to Japan, from India to South Africa, have all marked the start of the season on their social media profiles with this distinctive new match ball. The far-reaching unboxing campaign to kick-off the new season under the hashtag #PLAYLaLigaSantander reached almost 300 million users, generating excitement and anticipation for the league with the most social media followers in the world (140 million across over 17 social media platforms) in all four corners of the globe. 

Having already seen drama and surprises, thrills and spills and last-minute winners across the first matchdays of the season, the 2021/22 campaign promises an almost unprecedented degree of competitiveness, excitement, passion, and drama week in, week out, and is one you definitely won’t want to miss. And thanks to an unparalleled television experience featuring cutting-edge audiovisual technology and multi-camera signals in every broadcast, all you have to do is press #PLAYLaLigaSantander.

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Five LaLiga players to watch during the September international break

As LaLiga Santander players meet up with their national teams to play World Cup qualifiers, here are five with particularly interesting storylines.
Sergiño Dest – FC Barcelona and USA
The USA famously missed out on a place at the 2018 World Cup, so making it to Qatar in 2022 is a priority for the USMNT and the country’s fans hope that young talents like Sergiño Dest can lead them there. The FC Barcelona right-back is in Gregg Berhalter’s squad for the September qualifiers against El Salvador, Canada and Honduras and he’ll be looking to impress for his national team. Dest also meets up with his country aware that strong performances will help him in his club battle with summer signing Emerson for minutes on the right of Barça’s defence.
Karim Benzema – Real Madrid and France
Following a six-year absence from international duty, Karim Benzema returned to the France national team set-up for Euro 2020 and the Real Madrid No.9 was excellent, scoring four goals in four games. Now, fans will be able to see the striker in blue again this September, as he looks to fire France towards the 2022 World Cup. This break, they play qualifiers against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine and Finland.
Takefusa Kubo – RCD Mallorca and Japan
Takefusa Kubo was exceptional at the Olympic Games, leading Japan to three wins from three in the group stage by scoring in every game, before helping them reach the semi-finals. Ultimately, the host nation lost the bronze medal match, even though Kubo added an assist in that defeat to Mexico. Now, the 20-year-old, who is on loan at RCD Mallorca from Real Madrid this season, will look to make a similar impact with the senior Japan national team as they face Oman and China in World Cup qualifying.
Brais Méndez – RC Celta and Spain
Brais Méndez has played one match and scored one goal for Spain, netting the only strike of a 1-0 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018. The RC Celta playmaker hasn’t played for his country again since then, but is back on the squad list for La Roja’s September qualifiers against Sweden, Georgia and Kosovo. Luis Enrique explained that he has been impressed by the 24-year-old’s performances in LaLiga Santander and that he deserves to be back in contention for national team minutes.
Alexander Sørloth – Real Sociedad and Norway
The transfer of Alexander Sørloth from RB Leipzig to Real Sociedad stands out as one of the most intriguing of the summer. Big things are expected of the big striker and fans of La Real and Spanish football in general will be able to see exactly what Sørloth can do in Norway’s matches against Netherlands, Latvia and Gibraltar, after catching a glimpse of him when he played just over five minutes in his debut against Levante UD in Matchday 3. The striker has 11 goals in 32 caps and will be looking to add to that this September.
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