A FEW YEARS AGO, the string-pullers in the Mexican soccer business decided to re-brand their top flight as Liga MX. New logo, new theme music, new cup tournament – it was quite a show. The newly branded Liga MX was positioning itself to make a move on the global stage. The cynics, and there are a lot (too many, really), who make it their business to follow and report on Mexican soccer responded they only way they know how: cynically. It is nothing more than just a fresh new color of lipstick for the same pig was the general consensus. And why not? The string-pullers of Mexican soccer have long had the reputation, whether justly earned or not, for not being the most transparent when it comes to league business. The problem is, while these reporters, columnists, pundits, bloggers, beat writers, and pretty TV people are all at the ready to fire the most tired of criticisms, they are not talking about what is happening on the field. As it turns out, they quality of play on the field is pretty good.
Instead, we hear incessantly that Liga MX is nothing more than mediocre. Are they paying attention? The league promotes itself, or at least tries to. But their positive spins are lost in translation when it goes through the media middlemen.
That’s a problem. And it is something that Liga MX needs to solve in the very near future. So me of it is self inflicted. There is a reason the press is so jaded. Some of Liga MX’s existing policies are, well, baffling. Take, for instance, coverage. Here in the US at least, when watching Fox Deportes, or ESPN, or Univision Deportes, when they talk about the league, the networks may not have the right to show highlights.
Highlights! It is not a good look. Not in these times, when all it takes is a tap of the finger to see a goal scored from anywhere in the world.
Liga MX needs as many outlets as possible, and it certainly doesn’t help that the ones who talk about it the most spend a good deal of their time trashing it. Some of that can’t be helped; it is what sells, after all. So find new outlets. Buy time on Eurosport and produce an hour-long weekly recap of the league. Or a couple of 60 min condensed games. The point is: get more exposure. Andre-Pierre Gignac has been the best story of the season. Why isn’t there a French page on the Tigres website, or at the very least a Twitter account in French?
Their website could use a face-lift, but, truth be told, it has improved dramatically from its initial launch. However, there is no English language version of their website. Or any other, for that matter. Their social media can also use a boost. Again, this is a rights issue, and I get that. But it would be a smart move to have a video available minutes after someone scored, or a great play, etc. Liga MX’s official twitter is somewhat informative – but again, there is a lot of room to improve.
Why the need for all this? Beacuse Liga MX is not just competing against MLS, but also La Liga, The EPL, Bundesliga, NFL, NBA, Ligue 1, and the Chinese League that has tapped into a seemingly endless pool of funds. Liga MX has the structure, the funding and the stability to do well in this New World Order. Their biggest obstacle, however, is for them to prove (to themselves as well) that they belong. One step to clearing the obstacle is to get the word out. Hey, everyone! Liga MX is pretty good. It is! Really. Here watch these highlights.
Instead of doing little to shake the reputation the league currently has, it can rewrite the narrative with an introduction to each new market. In other soccer loving countries, Liga MX could become a solid, entertaining league that has some quality players. Players could see a league that pays well, and is extremely competitive. Other clubs around the world could see a league that is well financed, and open for business.
But this is entirely up to Liga MX. If they continue to believe that the status quo has worked before and will do so moving forward, then they are missing out on a huge opportunity. If the only market outside of Mexico that matters to Liga MX is the Mexpat one in the US, then they are selling their own league short.
The String-pullers decided on the name Liga MX for a reason. Now it is time to let the rest of the world in on it.