Fame and ‘followers’ after jumping from amateur football to the Kings League: “It’s a catapult for our impact” | Catalonia

From Primera Catalana to stardom via Kings League (KL). Edgar Álvaro’s life has changed as much in three months as the number of followers on his Twitch channel. He has earned more than 35,000 digital subscriptions since he launched the competition and is beginning to become an icon in the sports-entertainment industry. Second top scorer in this new competition, he is one of the many players who has combined the 7-a-side soccer tournament with traditional territorial soccer. Álvaro is a striker for UE Rubí, a team in the sixth national division, but everyone knows him for having played with Los Troncos, a KL semifinalist, which last Sunday brought together 92,000 fans at the Camp Nou, in Barcelona. Álvaro’s experience and media explosion illustrate the potential of the new entertainment industry, which attracts the interest of young footballers and worries clubs with few resources.

“If this continues to grow, the Kings League could become a threat to traditional clubs”, considers Aleix Lagé, a player for Ultimate Móstoles and with extensive experience in leading clubs in Catalonia. The organizing company of the KL, Kosmos, agreed a remuneration of 75 euros per game for each player (about 250 euros net per month), but Gerard Piqué has already advanced that the amount will increase. “If they raise this salary, there will be more interest in participating: I know former teammates who now want to join the Kings League,” insists Lagé, who had hung up his boots in 2021. The average salary of a Primera Catalana player is around 300 euros per month on average, and one from Tercera Rfef, the fifth national division, moves between 300 and 500 euros, with three or four days of mandatory training.

Given the overall result, the remuneration in the new competition seems the least of it. Sponsors have found in the players a vein to strengthen their brands among young people, and those footballers who previously played in almost empty stadiums throughout Catalonia now shine on their social networks that have filled the Camp Nou with millionaire digital audiences. “This competition is a catapult for the repercussion of the participants”, closes Lagé. Álvaro himself started this Tuesday a streaming on Twitch which drew 1,600 viewers in just 20 minutes to talk about his toothache, his job as a marketing technician and, obviously, the Kings League.

José Segovia, former player of Cornellà, Sant Andreu and La Montanyesa, among others; He has also noticed a change. He has signed more autographs since he defended the goal of Porcinos FC, owned by the streamer Ibai Llanos, when he played against Real Madrid or Atlético de Madrid in the Copa del Rey. “Now they know me on the street and I experience a popularity that I did not experience before,” he shares. As a result of his participation in the 7-a-side soccer tournament, they give him free gloves, boots, clothing and other sponsored products, such as Cola-Cao or Nocilla. “Before I went to Mercadona and now they give it to me,” he prudently admits. The goalkeeper had retired in 2021 after passing some oppositions, but he wanted to return so that his youngest son could see him play. He found a place in the Kings League and now rules out returning to traditional football because, he says, his son “likes it better”.

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The sudden arrival of fame risks disorienting some young people. “It is very easy for them to get confused,” warns Nacho Castro, former coach of Horta and Andorra, and Ultimate Móstoles coach. “They have to know that this is very ephemeral, and that when you are up now, tomorrow you can be down.” Castro played three seasons for Barça B in the 1990s, and compares the frustration of those young footballers who had to leave the club with the current situation in the KL. “If the income rises, the level will rise, and some who have now played will be left out,” he warns. “They can see it as a failure, and it’s not easy to accept.”

Many of the players on Castro’s team combined the new league with obligations to their clubs. “I do not recommend that they do it again,” says the technician. Some footballers played Kings League matches a few hours after playing a match with their club. Aleix Massegú, a 27-year-old soccer player from El Barrio, winner of the league, trained three days a week with CF Tordera, from Segunda Catalana, and another two with the newly created team. He also competed on Saturdays in his club and on Sundays in the KL. “We all thought we could mix it up, but maybe not,” he admits. “It has been difficult to manage everything, but my dream was to play at the Camp Nou, and here I have achieved it”. Going back and forth, Castro considers, “makes you perform less on both sides.”

The problem, the clubs understand, is that the Kings League further undermines its competitive capacity for its potential. UE Sants, a historic club from Barcelona in a relegation position to the First Catalan, lost a direct duel on Sunday against Vilafranca without Cristian Ubón, MVP of the tournament, who played the qualifiers at the Camp Nou at the same time. The Barcelona club communicated on Tuesday the separation of the footballer by mutual agreement. “We cannot offer him the success he deserves and he does not want to further harm the team by not feeling in the right mindset to continue,” the club explained in a statement. The president of Sants had already shown his discomfort at the player’s decision on Monday: “I can understand that the boy wants to enjoy this opportunity, but we didn’t like the lack of commitment towards the club and his teammates”. The Catalan Football Federation refused to refer to this aspect.

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