The island team brings international flair to La Liga – new sport96

brings international, flair to La Liga, international flair to La Liga, Mallorca, sport, The island team, The island team brings

The freshly made pizza at Mallorca’s Son Moix house is so good that after La Liga games the players stay here to share a slice with the fans lucky enough to take a seat in the club’s VIP corner.

Andy Kohlberg, former tennis player and current president of the club, is baked at 800 degrees in a portable oven with ingredients from Naples and calls it “literally the best pizza you will ever have”.

It’s also a microcosm of the project in Mallorca, where international influences on and off the pitch have helped the Balearic club return to La Liga this season after turbulent years.

The Bermellones have not spent any consecutive seasons in the same league since a 2016-17 season that ended with relegation to the Spanish third division.

In 2016, they were deeply in debt when they were bought by a group including Kohlberg and Robert Sarver, the co-owners of NBA side Phoenix Suns and basketball legend Steve Nash. Former England international Graeme Le Saux sits on the board, the goal is now to establish Mallorca in the top division.

“It’s an understatement to say it was a roller coaster ride,” Kohlberg told BBC Sport. “It was a challenge, but we mastered it.

“It’s difficult to plan for the long term when you’re not sure which division you’ll be in next year, but hopefully we’ve made some progress.

“We learned a lot and the aim is of course to establish ourselves in La Liga and to be a kind of top 10 team.”

Things started well for the newcomer, with a 1-0 win over Levante before the international break, who finished 12th after eight games.

Kohlberg is determined to forge a winning culture and focus on the club’s academy and development program while improving the roster through smart acquisitions, though he leaves that side of the business to the “football experts”.

“I bring a different perspective,” he says after spending 17 years with the Suns who reached the NBA finals last season.

“I know the mentality of top athletes and apply this knowledge to other sports.

With La Liga now welcoming 100 percent viewership again and travel restrictions being relaxed, fan engagement is also high on the agenda.

In addition to great pizza, the Visit Mallorca Stadium offers Spain’s first “tunnel club” – including a one-way glass wall in the tunnel, press conference room and VIP mini-stand.

When first revealed, the club said it wanted to “pay more attention to Millennials and Generation Z while having an audience of 50% women”.

“The key is not to bring in the entire American mentality,” explains Kohlberg, who tries to reconcile such innovations with the preservation of traditional gaming experiences.

“We have a really clear strategy for targeting the interests of two types of fans – we have our core supporters, but we also have 13 million tourists who come to the island each year.

“It means recognizing and celebrating the island’s culture for the fans who have been coming for 20 years and preserving that experience for them, but also offering something different for people who are not from Mallorca.”

Worldwide attention to the island’s football club was helped by the arrival of Japanese candidate Takefusa Kubo, on loan from Real Madrid, after also spending 2019-20 with Mallorca. There is also a willingness from La Liga to promote games and schedule kick-off times that are suitable for a Japanese audience.

Mallorca produces its own content for the club’s Japanese audience and merchandise is readily available, while in September it was the third most viewed club in the league on YouTube, behind Barcelona and Real Madrid.

It comes after Schalke’s American striker Matthew Hoppe and South Korean Kang-in Lee, who has left Valencia, signed another pair of talented 20-year-olds with international appeal this summer.

It looks like a great recruiting on paper, but it also looks like a marketing dream.

“Well, first we make a football decision. Are these the right players, the right value, the right fit?” says Kohlberg.

“That’s the predominant choice. The fact that we can benefit from it and do things similar to Take in Japan, Kang-in in Korea, or Matthew Hoppe in America, is kind of the icing on the cake or a cherry on top. It’s not that.” Main driving force.

“It is certainly a secondary factor in our decision, but the primary decision is made by the football people, whether they are the right ones and what we are looking for.”

Kohlberg believes the squad has a productive mix of youth and experience and there is someone in coach Luis Garcia who is willing to trust the youth in order to preserve the club’s identity.

“They are open to young players if they are good enough,” Hoppe told BBC Sport. “You are ready to give them a chance and bet on helping them progress and take their game to the next level.

“The training is really intense, the ball movement is really fast – one or two touches, unlike in Germany. It’s a lot faster.

“He’s a coach who likes to keep the ball, like to dominate the game and develop a plan with the strikers. Sometimes he wants us to run back to take advantage of the space or to take advantage of certain defenders or to check the ball.”

Hoppe has also learned that Garcia is “huge body fat” and makes sure his players are in great shape – which means more pizza for the locals.

“It’s a completely different culture than Germany,” added the US international. “It’s a great place with great food and a great island.

“It’s definitely one of the best places in the world to play football.”

Leave a Reply