President of LaLiga, Javier Tebas listed the benefits of the three months old partnership with the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) when he was joined by the Ambassador of Spain to Nigeria, Alfonso Barnuevo to formally open the LaLiga office in Nigeria located inside the Corporate Headquarters of the League Management Company (LMC) in Maitama District, Abuja. The LaLiga President afterwards spoke at a media conference where he restated the Spanish League body's commitment to making the five-year commercial and technical partnership with the NPFL a success.
He recalled that he led a delegation of LaLiga officials to Nigeria in April to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the LMC and noted that "we are here today to open a LaLiga Office in Nigeria in furtherance of that understanding".
According to Tebas, the benefits of the partnership would be attained in phases citing the coming tour of Spain by a select All-Star team of NPFL players.
In listing the benefits of the partnership, the LaLiga President stated, "We have made good progress in the three months of the understanding signed between us and Nigeria football league and in a few weeks, an All-Star team from Nigeria will tour LaLiga and we are taking care of the travel and accommodation of 40 members of the team.
"During this tour, the team will play three matches in Spain and will be watched by the Directors of top LaLiga clubs who make decisions and this may result in some Nigeria League players being invited to the clubs. We also will be sending experts to interact with NPFL Club Managers and share knowledge and also send coaches to work at the grassroot academies for development of youth football",
He also assured the audience made up of the LMC top executives, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Board members, NPFL Club Chairmen and the media that with time, "LaLiga clubs would also visit Nigeria to play friendly matches...yes, Barcelona can come to Nigeria and that will mean that the NPFL is a big league".
Some of the personalities at the ceremony include a representative of the NFF President, Alhaji Ibrahim Gussau, NFF Board member, Ahmed Fresh Yusuf, LMC CEO, Hon. Nduka Irabor, LMC COO, Salihu Abubakar, Chairman of Club Owners/Managers Forum, Barrister Isaac Danladi and the Executive Secretary of Club Owners Forum, Alloy Chukwuemeka. Also present were
Chairman of Abia Warriors FC, Chief Emeka Inyama, Chairman of El-Kanemi Warriors, Alhaji Zana Mohammed Mala, Godwin Enakhena, the Chairman of MFM FC and a former Chairman of Lobi Stars FC, Dominic Iorfa
Tebas said the partnership is providing opportunities for mutual benefit of both leagues and concluded, "I am sure that by the time the first five years of the partnership ends, LaLiga and NPFL will be bigger".
Ambassador Alfonso Barnuevo said he was happy to see Nigeria and Spain extend cooperation to football and predicted that there is a bright future ahead.
"As Spanish Ambassador, I have to express my satisfaction that one of the strongest institution in Spain, and probably one of the best known worldwide, LaLiga, has established office in Abuja. I see a bright future ahead", the Ambassador remarked
"I am very happy that the already fruitful relationship between Nigeria and Spain is expanding to other domains. Nigeria is a strategic partner of Spain in energy matters. As you know, Spain is the third best client of Nigeria, buying 4.6 billion euros in Gas and oil...". Barnuevo added.
Chairman of LMC, Shehu Dikko in a closing remark expressed appreciation to the LaLiga partners and took time to list some of the breakthroughs the LMC has made in recent months, citing a letter of commendation from FIFA on the league's governance structure.
"We are delighted by some of the modest achievements we have attained and want to thank LaLiga for the partnership and their decision to open an office here. More importantly, we believe more can be achieved with the support of all stakeholders", Dikko remarked.