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Although Liga MX is completing three consecutive tournaments receiving public in its stadiums, its economic recovery remains weak. In the 22 months of existence of the pandemic, it accumulates total losses of 5,000 million pesos and there are still actions to be taken to reach the balance, Mikel Arriola, executive president of the league, explains to this newspaper.

“The expectation for this World Cup year is that we continue with growth, that we close above the program in income by more or less 28%,” Arriola highlights, noting that in 2021 the Liga MX grew its value by 10%, going from 2.3 million dollars to 2.4, considering the valuations of staff, brands and infrastructure.

Managing covid has not been easy at the beginning of 2022. The outbreaks in the world have forced managers to rethink their protocols, starting with carrying out detection tests, which went from being every 10 days to every seven, while In the vaccination scheme, he assures that “we are almost 100% with double doses in terms of the players.”

Although medical experts have indicated that the next three or four weeks are the ones that will have the greatest uptick in infections in Mexico, Liga MX has not implemented the closure of stadiums and capacity has remained between 30 and 100%, highlighting Mexico City (Azteca and Ciudad Universitaria stadiums) for having the total open capacity.

Have you thought about returning to the closure of stadiums due to the current outbreak of covid?

“That depends on the epidemiological curve and that is determined by a health authority. In July 2020, the protocol for returning to economic activity was formulated and there the protocol was threaded according to the epidemiological traffic light, which is weighted by infections, hospitalizations and now also by vaccination and deaths (…) It is important to say that the determination is by each specific case, each game a permit is requested and the health secretaries are the ones that approve two things: the protocol in the stadium with a healthy distance and the capacity, ”replies Mikel Arriola.

Until matchday 3 of Clausura 2022, two matches have been postponed but within the same date (Santos against Tigres and Pumas against Toluca, within matchday 1) and one more has been suspended without announcing its rescheduling (Puebla against Tijuana of matchday 3), all due to outbreaks in the teams, since teams like Xolos had seven infections and Tigres 12 in the 72 hours prior to the matches.

“The covid, with (the variant) ómicron, doubles every three days and that implies that global infections will multiply almost 2,000%. In the league, fortunately, the 9% between male and female players has not been exceeded. This has happened because a year ago we experienced a very similar thing and we strengthened the protocols in a dual way, reducing the time to do tests and antigen tests were incorporated. The main element that the league has to have visibility over the participants are the tests”.

According to figures from the president of Liga MX, as of January 17, the contagion figures in Mexican soccer are as follows: 4.2% positive in Liga MX, 7.4% in Liga Femenil, 3.8% in Liga de Expansion, 4.3% in the sub 20 category, 4.4% in the sub 18, 3.9% in the sub 17, 4.2% in the sub 16 and 7.3% in the sub 14, with a total of 190 players with active contagion from a universe of 3,789 registered, so the total percentage of cases is 5% among all the categories mentioned.

Mikel Arriola explains that with a maximum of nine positives during the 72 hours before the game, it is only postponed, but within the same day; instead, if there are 10 or more infections, the game moves to another date.

Regarding the recovery of capacity, it stands out that during the first half of 2021 they managed to get 550,000 fans, while in the second half the figure increased to 2.5 million, with an average of 13,000 attendees per game. The expectation in 2022 is to double that figure to reach the 23,000 of the pre-Covid era and boost matchday revenue for each club.

“We need to normalize our capacity, but at the same time also work on how we establish more of a relationship with our fans, with the famous fanbase. Today there are, for example, teams that have already developed fan tokens so that fans have rewards at the club”.

Arriola points out that Liga MX is working on a digital strategy with which it plans to boost the economy in 2022, something that they have encouraged as a result of the pandemic: “We are advanced in the generation of the NFTs of the league itself to develop fanbase , we are also working on our new application so that from there we can give the fan, in addition to statistics, more opportunities to bond with their teams and surely this year we will launch the Football Fantasy of the league, which establishes relationships with young fans ”.

After the Djokovic case, will Liga MX force its players to be vaccinated?

“The vaccination policy is from the federal government, the league does not plan any interpretation of that policy, it is applied from age groups and our players have their scheme in accordance with that policy. The lesson of the covid is that the vaccinated or the unvaccinated can get it and can spread it, so that is why it is so important to have tests, because what it is about is not having infections, that there are no interruptions in the development of the league. We do not get involved in the vaccination policy, but we are very intensive in tests to protect the integrity of people and our championship. The vaccination scheme for the players is charged to the national policy”.

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