Thanks to the popularity of Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso, a TV show about a fictional American soccer coach, the visibility of soccer has significantly increased on this side of the Atlantic. So much so that other European leagues are taking notice of what American fans can bring to the table.
Spain’s LaLiga is one of these leagues. The second-most popular soccer league in the U.S., according to Statista, has relied on big brand clubs such as Barcelona and Real Madrid to attract new fans. But slowly, LaLiga is amplifying its efforts to become more like the Premier League by helping the mid-tier clubs grow their footprint and increase their fanbases in the U.S.
“The United States is a key market,” Robert Sarver—owner of the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury, and RCD Mallorca—told Sportico. “[LaLiga is] trying to expand the penetration of the league in the United States. Increased viewership and commercialization have been a priority.”
Last year the league signed a $2.4 billion investment deal with CVC Capital Partners to “boost the global growth of LaLiga and its clubs.” While Real Madrid and Barcelona opted out of the deal, Real Mallorca, Sevilla and Osasuna, among several other mid-tier clubs, are taking full advantage of these funds mainly to grow their presence in the U.S. market.
“The U.S. is a country where football is growing a lot, given that young people are increasingly consuming football,” Sevilla president Jose Castro Carmona said in an email, adding that the growing U.S. Latino population adds to the States’ potential as a market for the sport.
“Budgets will vary depending on the club’s turnover and the international market,” Boris Gartner, CEO of LaLiga North America—a joint venture between LaLiga and Relevent media—told Sportico. “But in some cases, investments in international digital expansion, marketing and branding can be over $1 million per season.”
With this allocation, Gartner said clubs would have a focused international expansion that can be done over a long period without being subjected to the ups and downs of the business or the sporting results.
LaLiga’s strategy to build a consistent fan base in the United States has been an ongoing project since before the CVC investment. In 2018, the league formed LaLiga North America; with offices in New York and Miami (and an in-house content studio in Mexico City), this operation has been helping clubs leverage existing infrastructure to advance their objectives.
“Currently, most of the clubs have a fan engagement and content strategy that is Spain-focused,” Adrian Segovia, head of content and distribution at LaLiga North America, said. Segovia manages LaLiga North America’s content studio in Mexico City, where a team of creators design and execute clubs’ content strategy for the U.S. market. Segovia’s team is working with nine first-division clubs that have prioritized the U.S. market in their international development efforts this season.
One of these clubs is six-time UEFA cup champion Sevilla, Spain’s oldest soccer club. The team, which recently sold a 15% stake to Miami-based alternative investment firm 777 Partners, is focused on improving its branding to penetrate international markets. While the top priority is acquiring new fans, the team has also been working with the U.S.-based hospitality group Legends to upgrade its stadium. The $200 million renovation project, which was underway before the CVC investment, is aimed at bringing in new fans and generating new revenue streams, in a U.S.-like approach to sports. Once renovated, the landmark stadium is expected to bring $300 million in ticket sales and merchandising per year by 2025.
Sevilla will receive nearly €130 million ($130 million) from the CVC investment. In line with the agreement between LaLiga and CVC, the team can spend 70% of the money on infrastructure and new lines of business, meaning $90 million will go towards the existing renovation project.
Another team utilizing CVC funds for its stadium is Sarver’s Real Mallorca. The team aims to improve the fan experience by bringing fans closer and creating more areas for interaction, food, and beverage. They are also using some of the funds to improve the training ground and how they use social media to reach their “customers.”
Sarver, who wants to increase his team’s footprint in his home country, said they are aiming to improve social media and marketing. “From that standpoint, I think the proceeds from CVC have been very valuable to help us improve the product,” he said.
While Club Atletico Osasuna does not have American investors or a massive international presence, it is focused on bringing more American eyeballs to Pamplona. The team is working with LaLiga North America’s studio in Mexico, generating custom content pieces for the U.S. and Mexico, both in English and Spanish and distributing these videos across social platforms of the club, LaLiga and ESPN.
Luis Arregui, Osasuna’s head of international business, said the U.S. hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup is a sign the country is serious about continuing to invest in soccer both short and long term.
“Our model and development are similar to how soccer organizations function in the United States as they seek to grow,” Arregui said. Like Sevilla and Real Mallorca, Los Rojillos are using the CVC funds for infrastructure, data analytics to improve players and fan engagement and business development with a focus on the U.S. market.
Clubs’ efforts are also backed by ESPN’s coverage of the league. This new season, ESPN Deportes will air two games per weekend, focusing on non-Real Madrid and Barcelona matches, which will give more visibility across all other clubs.
But social media, technology and increased TV visibility are not the only tools Spanish clubs are using to develop engagement with the U.S. Two weeks ago, LaLiga North America brought Cristo Fernandez, the actor who plays Danny Rojas in Ted Lasso to attend a Real Sociedad game against Barcelona.
“Fútbol is life,” Fernandez tweeted on his social media channel, holding a Real Sociedad jersey, his tag line from the show.
Most Americans might not agree just yet, but LaLiga is betting the audiences are warming up to the idea.