Our exclusive interviews continue for the Asian event scheduled from 5 to 7 November at W Taipei in Taiwan
Members of the sports, betting and gaming industries have chosen Asia Gaming Summit to meet and form a group with the aim of analyzing the new frontiers of markets and dealing with the future of an increasingly global sector.
On the “day – 2” of the event, we talk about betting and sports, it’s time to “OutOfTheBox: Not everything is about Football – Betting on Tennis“, the panel organized by Beacon in AGS and dedicated to the theme of betting, with particular attention to the tennis markets, to the analysis of the Asian sports scene and its opportunities.
An interesting panel to understand the importance of sport regulations by evaluating the role of athletes and their integrity for the tennis, sport and betting industry.
On the occasion of this important event we met rapporteur Eduard Castell García, Delegate of LaLiga in Hong Kong.
Information on LaLiga
“LaLiga is a global, innovative and socially responsible organisation that leads the way in the leisure and entertainment sector. It is a private sporting association which is comprised of the 20 LaLiga Santander and 22 LaLiga SmartBank clubs and public limited sports companies (SADs) and is responsible for organising professional and national football competitions. In the 2018/19 season, LaLiga reached a global audience of 2.7 billion. The institution is centrally headquartered in Madrid (Spain) and has a presence in 55 countries through its nine offices and 46 delegates. The association carries out social outreach activities through its foundation and is the world’s first professional football league with a league for intellectually challenged footballers: LaLiga Genuine Santander“.
Visit the website: https://www.laliga.com/
Here is our exclusive interview with Eduard Castell García.
1 – Expert in the sports markets on the Spain / Asia axis, keen on marketing and new media opportunities, responsible for the Spanish Liga and much more. Who is Eduard Castell García and what has been his path over the years to this day?
I was born in Valencia where I got my degree in business with special focus on international trade. I have always had an international mind : I studied in a French School in Spain, I did my degree in English and I have been living abroad for many years. The last 6 ones in Greater China between Shanghai, Beijing and now Hong Kong.,by doing my work successfully and with passion, I had the chance to start working 3 years ago for LaLiga, the best football league in the world through LaLiga Global Network initiative. Apart from having this international experience, it was key to demonstrate tremendous passion and eagerness to be a part of LaLiga. The process involved 12,500 candidates and around 60 of uswere selected to go through the 10-week LaLiga training in Madrid , where our headquarters is. Currently, based in Hong Kong and working closely with our office in Shanghai.
2 – Your work on behalf of one of the most important football club championships in the world: La Liga. What do you do, how is your company present in these areas and what are the future objectives of your presence on the Asian market?
It goes without saying that football, the main sport, has more than ever no frontiers. We are a global brand and one of the main reasons for international development is to get closer to our fans ,which are not only those in Spain but anywhere in the world, so that we can get to know them better and understand their tastes and needs. We have to interact with them every day not just during the 90 minutes which each match lasts.
We are looking to keep on raising the awareness and the popularity of LaLiga to gain brand value and more fan engagement worldwide.
Out of our 10 offices, half of them are in Asia ( New Delhi, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore and Dubai) that shows the importance of this part of the world for us. Moreover, we have delegates in all main markets of the region such Japan, Thailand or Philippines, even if in the latest one football is not the main sport practiced.
We are close to the broadcaster to jointly promote LaLiga, doing events such as Public Viewings, having good relationship with media and generate more content around us and our clubs, helping to develop football through academies like the one in Indonesia, by helping the local league where they need it and other grassroots projects.
It is important to point out that we are the only league with so much presence worldwide and the proof of this successful work done recently is the increase of sponsor at a local level such as Iberia in China, regional level such as ManBet X for Asia or at a global scale with Puma, Budweiser or Live Score among others.
3 – Eduard Castell García and LaLiga, a combination that has lasted for almost three years. Is it possible to take stock of this adventure and what was the initiative that most pleased you or the most beautiful episode that left its mark so far?
I think there many amazing things that we have been done but I will highlights 2 of them that show how powerful football is and how many things it can bring to the society. Football has a social part on it, watching LaLiga game with your friends or family or also practising it. We started with the 4 fan clubs of LaLiga teams in Hong Kong , Valencia, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletivo de Madrid, the Chinese New Year tournament , a day to spend sharing with others that may not support your team but an excellent opportunity to have fun and meet new people. We do a football tournament but we also end up with a dinner together while watching LaLiga. It is very nice to see how friends and family come to support as well.
The other example is LaLiga talks, an initiative that we do in different schools using football as a mean of sending a positive message to the kids. Using real cases of players of LaLiga that suffer from social problems ( bullying, poverty, obesity etc,) we explain them that any problem may be overcome with effort and hard work.
4- When we talk about betting, we almost certainly think of football. In recent years, however, even tennis has received important attention from bettors. The panel in which you are a speaker tends to address these new developments. What are the topics covered in OutOfTheBox?
There are players who earn little, who do not receive their full salary, or who are paid late. Some friendly games are also susceptible to corruption. There are also illegal bookmakers and anyone can place a bet from anywhere in the world.” Other causes which can alter the normal course of events in football are that professional careers are short, people decide to look after their own interests, or in some cases they are too young or too old.
Since the entry of our current President, Javier Tebas, fighting against match fixing has been a priority for LaLiga. This has led to be nowadays an example in integrity work. We will assess the importance of integrity in sports to keep the value high, the connection between football and the sports betting industry and how LaLiga is preventing and combating match fixing with workshops prevention and with our software that analyse all betting and detect any anomaly.
5-Sport and Betting, there are those who believe that this association can only lead to negative phenomena. Match fixing and alteration of results frighten most bookmakers and pure sport lovers. How can these problems be countered and how does La Liga carry out the right prevention?
It is important to start explaining that the alteration of the match is not just about the final result, that could be number of corners, number of goals withing the first 20 minutes, numbers of players booked and so on.
The first step is prevention, as we visited all the dressing rooms of LaLiga Santander, La Liga Smartbank which is the profesional football but also non profesional league including women football and futsal.
We give workshops explaining what shouldn’t be done and giving basic guides about how to act if they are in a situation like that, and it works better than we might seem.
We also do it for younger ages starting by 8 years old players but that we focus more on the values of sports and those older than 14 start communicating about the risks of betting.
LaLiga own a tool called TYCHE, which monitors all bets that are made across all football matches of every available bookmaker.
TYCHE technology has a warning system from 0 to 5 and when a betting movement exceeds 2 the alarm is activated.
The data is subsequently collected and a report is filed by LaLiga’s Integrity department before being sent to the police.
We are proud to say that last season 2018-2019 we did not have one single game in LaLiga of being potentially fixed.
6 – The Asian market and the many new opportunities for sports and betting. What are the advantages that these territories offer European actors and what do you expect for the future?
The fact that LaLiga changed their kick off time 6 years ago to make them more Asian friendly has allowed us to have around 3 billions audience worldwide last season. Football is growing fast in countries like China or India and we are talking about the biggest countries in the world population-wise. For instance, we have 30 academies in India with our local partner Indian Track or we are building the first permanent LaLiga academy next to Kunming, Yunnan ( China)
Asia is a big advantage in terms of population, emerging economies that are becoming more and more international. For instance, recently we announced our first global sponsor from India , BKT, and in China we had many companies that have been trusting us to gain visibility in the domestic market such as Dongfeng.
Generally speaking, the Asian gambling market is quite complicated in terms of regulation, due to the varying nature from one country to another. We’ll have to follow closely how these regulations evolve and the legal changes that might affect gambling.
I’m sure that if the different regulations promote or help to stablish a regulatory framework for gambling, there will be plenty of opportunities in Asia for different sports and competitions around the world.