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La Liga, Shaken by Second Wave of Virus, Enlists Players’ Kids as Messengers

  • September 21, 2020

A separate effort is being carried out in association with a company called Club del Deportista, a lifestyle and luxury concierge service that for the past 16 years has catered to the needs and whims of millionaire athletes and their families. Among the promotions for high-end clothing lines, car services and private dining experiences it usually offers, the company is now sharing the league’s latest coronavirus updates and reminders of the need to remain vigilant.

The idea, La Liga’s Martin said, was to communicate with players through a channel that is already popular with them — this spring, panicked players used Club del Deportista to source scarce supplies of hand sanitizer, masks and coronavirus tests — and not to bombard them with months and months of official league messaging.

The players, a company official said, are already engaging.

“They are also people, they have families, they also feel unsafe, and they are very worried,” Gonzalo Moreno, a partner at Club del Deportista, said in an interview. “Football is very important, they have big salaries, so they are not only worried about being healthy but also about the business. Without it, they don’t have work.”

The league is aware there could be cases of players’ not following the new rules. Last season, it opened 12 disciplinary cases over breaches of its virus protocols, including one against a group of Sevilla players who had posted photos to social media of themselves and their partners attending a barbecue during the nationwide lockdown.

But it also laid out for the teams the consequences of failure. Under the new rules, teams must be able to field a minimum of five players from their first-team roster and eight from their reserve squad to avoid a postponed game. Teams will be permitted only one postponement out of the first 30 matches in the season; any more after that will result in forfeits. “Clubs recognize this could jeopardize their season,” said Javier Morente, a member of the cabinet of La Liga’s president, Javier Tebas.

To drive home the point more personally, La Liga also has created video messages from fans of each club. In the videos, men and women, young and old, tell the players on their favorite teams about how infection affected them, and warn them not to take any chances.

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