La Liga, the top football league in Spain, has a long-standing ambition to grow the sport in India and now it has named Indian cricketer Rohit Sharma, one of the top batsmen in the world, to be its brand ambassador in the country.

It makes Sharma the first ever non-footballer brand ambassador to be appointed by La Liga globally and he will be the face of the league in India.

“Football in India is in its global growth trajectory and it is heartening to see that it is no more considered as the ‘sleeping giant’,” said Sharma in a statement announcing his appointment last week.

“Over the course of the past five years, we have witnessed a significant growth in the interest for football in India. Credit must be given to everyone associated with it, including the fans,” he added.

La Liga has operated in India since 2017 and has sought to nurture football and build its brand via a series of initiatives. These include La Liga Football Schools, a broadcast partnership with Facebook to provide more than 300 matches for free for Indian audiences.

It described the association with Rohit Sharma as “another major initiative” to further “catapult” the momentum football has been gaining in India.

“India is a very important market for La Liga from a global perspective,” said Jose Antonio Cachaza, managing director of La Liga India. “Over the past two years, and after several ground-breaking initiatives, it is obvious that India has a huge appetite for football,” he added.

“Rohit Sharma is the perfect example of this. [Despite] being the most renowned face in Indian cricket right now, he is also an ardent football and La Liga fan.”

Even though cricket is the most dominant sport in India, domestic football is starting to make its mark, attracting bigger audiences and the advertising that goes with them.

It is why international football brands are showing greater interest and only this month City Football Group, the parent company of Manchester City of the English Premier League, acquired a 65% stake in Mumbai City FC to “develop the club as quickly as possible”.

Sourced from La Liga; additional content by WARC staff