Former FC Barcelona star, Gerard Piqué, recently launched an ambitious–and potentially groundbreaking–post-retirement project: Kings League Infojobs, a new seven-a-side, Spanish football league established in December 2022. Piqué selected 12 partners, called “presidents” (high-profile digital content creators and other former football athletes, including Iker Casillas and Kun Agüero), to build their own teams from the ground up–from creating names and logos to hiring management and technical staff.
One especially high-profile president, influencer Ibai Llanos–a Spanish internet celebrity and renowned esports caster known simply as “Ibai,” whose events hold worldwide streaming records–heads up league club Porcinos FC. The league is leveraging Llanos’ massive following (more than 9M on Instagram alone)–along with the followings of its other presidents–to grow its viewership.
This strategy is proving wildly successful so far. The Kings League has already drawn legions of viewers since its inaugural season kicked off on January 1, 2023, helped in part by an appearance by Brazilian football legend Ronaldinho in the 8th “journey” (weekly game day, in Kings League parlance, aka “matchday”). In January alone, the league racked up 238M views on TikTok, while the league’s Twitch account drew the platform’s highest average number of viewers worldwide the same month.
Kings League rules differ from traditional football regulations, with the goal of adding dynamism to the game via tactics including a tie-breaker penalty shootout, unlimited substitutions, and special “secret weapons” (detailed below).
Anyone who wants to play for the league–from influencers to athletes, and everyone in between–can apply by submitting an application and video. Kings League then selects 200 players and holds a draft, where presidents and their coaches make their picks.
Rules & Regulations
- Kings League matches are held every Sunday from 4:00pm-10:00pm Central European Time (CET), and span 40 minutes divided into two halves.
- At the conclusion of the 11-journey regular season–which lasts just 3 months–the eight best teams proceed to the playoffs, which will culminate in a Final Four on March 26 at Camp Nou (FC Barcelona Stadium).
- There are 2 seasons per year; May 2023 begins this year’s second season.
- Before every match, each coach chooses an envelope containing a “secret weapon” (arma secreta in Spanish) that provides a playing advantage, which can be used once per game. The 20 “secret weapon” cards include the following advantages, among others:
- Double goal (6): For 2 minutes, goals scored will count as two.
- Penalty from the center (4): A penalty kick from midfield–1-on-1 striker against the goalkeeper, with no rejection possible.
- Wild card (1): Can be used as a wild card to play any of the other cards.
- Piqué (1): Gerard Piqué will join the team as a player for that match.
- At the 18th minute of the first half, a “League Card” is drawn that changes the number of players on the field (1vs1, 2vs2, 3vs3, 4vs4, or 5vs5) for the half’s last two minutes.
- There are no draws; if teams are tied at the match’s end, a penalty shootout decides the winner.
- In the starting kickoff, both teams must be on their goals until the countdown ends, and then run to take the ball at midfield.
On May 6, the Kings League will launch Queens League Oysho, named for the Spanish clothing retailer that’s its title sponsor. A women’s league with the same rules and format, its debut–to be played in tandem with the Kings League’s second season, with games held on Saturday–will help to further fuel the momentum of women’s football worldwide.
Kings League sponsors activate during matches via rotating billboards, product placement, and halftime challenges, among other assets. Each team can also sign its own sponsors, whose logos can be placed on the players’ jersey sleeves and shorts. Along with the weekly journey recap, “AfterKings,” broadcast Mondays on YouTube and Twitch–the league’s streaming partner–team presidents can stream their games on their preferred platforms, showcasing team sponsors with a product placement or digital billboard/logo activation.
INFOJOBS: The Kings League’s exclusive naming partner and primary jersey patch partner of all 12 teams, Europe’s leading career network brand also sponsors KOI, the esports team cofounded by Ibai.
Simyo: Marking one of its first forays into sports sponsorships, the Spanish telecom company ranks among the league’s main sponsors, whose assets include the “Simyo MVP” award.
McDonald’s: To promote McDelivery, its delivery services brand, McDonald’s sponsorships in Spain span sports including football (Mirandes), basketball (Cazoo Baskonia), and esports (Movistar Riders), as well as out-of-home advertising worldwide. Within the Kings League, the fast food titan sponsors event-related content including the countdown to matches’ kickoff, and runs a banner ad on Twitch, the league’s streaming partner.
Grefusa: The Spanish food products manufacturer ranks among the league’s main sponsors, and also sponsors its referees. Active in the streaming market, the snack brand also sponsors Ibai’s events, as well as Team Heretics, an esports team.
XiaoMI: An active sponsor of football properties–including the Mexican and Finnish national federations–as well as music festivals and esports teams, the Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer is one of the league’s main partners and its VAR (Instant Replay) sponsor. The brand’s logo also features on the back of all team jerseys.
CUPRA: The Spanish carmaker’s many sponsorships include the World Padel Tour, FC Barcelona, tennis events like the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, and KOI, Ibai’s esports club. As the Kings League Stadium Sponsor, the brand’s cars are displayed outside of CUPRA Arena, the league’s home.
Spotify: Hot on the heels of a landmark July 2022 deal with FC Barcelona that named the music streaming giant Main Partner and Official Audio Streaming Partner of the club–and saw the team’s stadium rebranded Spotify Camp Nou–the brand seized the opportunity to get in on the ground level of FC Barcelona alum Piqué’s newest venture, sponsoring the Kings League “secret weapon” cards.