This article was produced in association with LaLiga
LaLiga’s international reputation extends beyond the renowned qualities of its world-beating clubs and their superstar footballers.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been an increasingly central focus of LaLiga in recent times, with a total of €67m having been ploughed into the Spanish league’s CSR strategy in 2017-18 alone.
The vast majority of the total has been allocated towards active participation and community development, including support for amateur football, women’s football, the second tier, training programmes worldwide, the LaLiga scholarship plan and some 65 different national sports associations, among other project areas.
Anticipating future changes in the law that could require all companies to develop a social responsibility policy, LaLiga has seized the initiative, even though currently only companies listed on Spain’s stock exchange have to implement such a programme.
Meanwhile LaLiga has already spent two years establishing an in-house CSR project via the Social Fair Play programme, through the LaLiga Foundation.
Q&A: David Baixauli, project manager, corporate at LaLiga
David Baixauli, LaLiga’s project manager, corporate, explains why and how CSR has become such an integral part of LaLiga’s offering.
Why has CSR been implemented as part of LaLiga's general strategy?
Since the implementation of the financial control system, which came into force for clubs with the Royal Decree that centralised the sale of media rights, there have been two significant impacts.
Firstly, there has been an increase in social actions by clubs due to their improved financial health. Secondly, there has been an increase in terms of LaLiga’s financial investments in a broad CSR programme due to improved income, resulting from a rise in revenue from the current process for marketing the media rights.
This increase in social actions, and the large financial investments, have required an orderly framework for action and dissemination with centralised management through an assessment system that allows us to implement methods to measure and control our social actions and thereby assess and quantify the social profitability of our programmes.
The aim is to provide lessons and encourage our clubs to increase their social actions in line with LaLiga’s social strategy. Our principles are to standardise and create a code of conduct; to earn an official certification for our CSR activities; to verify and audit the value chain; and to report social actions.
What is the purpose of LaLiga's CSR strategy?
LaLiga's strategic objective is to establish itself as an instrument of guidance and support for the development of social, ethical and responsible practices. In the present day, professional sport comprises an increasingly globalised industry that has an obligation to praise its positive social effects and its financial dimension over and above certain irresponsible practices that must not damage our credibility and social image.
What is the leadership structure behind LaLiga’s CSR strategy?
The Foundation has always been the compass and executive arm of all the social activities and recently the creation of a CSR department has been assessed in order to amplify its actions and to organise and disseminate the entirety of its social work, both internally and externally.
Which areas are covered by LaLiga's CSR strategy?
There are five key areas of interest. The first of these is human rights, with the scope including actions against discrimination and vulnerable social groups. In the second area, labour practices, we are focused on human development and continuing education at work, plus the quest for fair working conditions and social protection. The third area looks at fair operating practices, and covers responsible political participation, fair competition, promotion of social responsibility in the value chain and respect for property rights.
The fourth area, active participation and development of the community, encompasses training in grassroots football, solidarity and social protection of amateur football and high-level sport, promotion of community involvement, promotion of women’s football and development and promotion of the 65 sports associations in Spain. The final area of interest is governance, namely the integration of responsibility across the entire organisation.
How is the CSR strategy integrated into the rest of the LaLiga brand?
We want to carry out ethical and responsible efforts, which are not limited to specific social actions disseminated in extensive strategic plans and CSR reports, but also have the objective of the LaLiga brand being perceived as more than simply ‘brand-washing’.
The strategic key to integrating our CSR project with the brand and its promotion is to unite our social objectives with the brand principles. This will allow us to increase our social contributions, viewing the social factor as an opportunity to stand out in the market.
How are LaLiga's CSR activities promoted?
At LaLiga we believe that when developing true social responsibility actions, their publication is not the priority, because the main objective is to assess whether our actions truly bring about social change in the conditions of a community or the social groups in which we operate. Even so, disseminating the values – rather than the actions – of LaLiga's CSR programme is one of the core aspects of our strategic plan.
Together with the communications and brand departments, two measures are being implemented. Firstly, the coordination of content, channels, media and methods of communication. Secondly, in the immediate future, the publication of the governance report, CSR report and economic/financial report as a single comprehensive public accountability document.
How do you expect LaLiga's CSR strategy to develop over the coming years and what are your hopes?
We aim to convert our CSR project into a differentiating element, which gives our brand a different direction, providing it with greater authenticity and strength, to grow over time. We also want to achieve a comprehensive alignment of LaLiga's strategic CSR plan with the CSR programmes of each and every club, and for LaLiga to continue to expand its actions as a driving force behind them.
“In short, our main approach is to stand out from the competition thanks to the social factor and to increase our actions in terms of corporate responsibility, as the basis for social responsibility.
To learn about the LaLiga Genuine project, click here.
To learn about the LaLiga Foundation, click here.