The Baller League is launching with a handful of celebrities from the world of football, streaming and entertainment. The Spanish ex-footballer Gerard Piqué developed their popular role model.
The trailer for the new indoor soccer league Baller League – organized by Mats Hummels and Lukas Podolski – shows where the journey is headed. A young man stands in the kebab shop, wearing a gold-colored retro FC Barcelona jacket and holding a smartphone in his hand. On it, Hummels says a few sentences and the football fan heads off to a small asphalt pitch on the banks of the Rhine in Cologne. The league starts on January 22nd and it should offer exactly that: football “from the street for the street,” as it says on Instagram.
These are the rules of the Baller League
The game is played on a small pitch (50 x 29 meters) six against six with goalkeepers; each game lasts two 15 minutes. The highlight of the encounters should be “innovative rules” that are intended to change the dynamics of a game. A wheel of fortune decides this new rule in the last three minutes of each half. For example, it can happen that each player is allowed to process the ball with just one touch or goals have to be scored by volley – street rules. They apply until the half-time whistle or in the last three minutes of the match. If there is a tie after the final whistle, the winning team will be determined by a shootout.
There are no boards on the playing fields, but there are out-of-bounds lines. The game is reminiscent of futsal, but differs in that offside is whistled – unusual for indoor football. “We want to go more in the direction of street football – the whole thing is transported into the hall on a large stage,” said Hummels to the German Press Agency (DPA).
Gerard Piqué’s Kings League is the model for the Baller League
The model for the Baller League is the Kings League run by former Spanish professional Gerard Piqué, in which a total of twelve teams compete against each other in seven-on-seven games. There are special rules here too, but instead of using the wheel of fortune, they are determined using various cards. The Kings League is particularly well received by young audiences; the league has three million followers on the streaming site Twitch, on which the games are broadcast, and over 90,000 watched the final matches in the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona at the end of March 2023 People.
Alisha Lehmann, Montana Black and more: the Baller League teams
The squads of the “Kings” teams consist of a total of twelve players, some of them are current or former footballers, but the majority consist of amateur kickers who are determined via a draft system.
It’s the same with the German counterpart, although there are former professionals like Christian Clemens and Moritz Leitner in the squad, but there are no real celebrities there. In complete contrast to the team managers who represent the teams. These include, for example, the footballers Alisha Lehmann and Jule Brand, the streamers Trymacs and Montana Black or the entertainers Felix Lobrecht and Knossi. When selecting the managers, the organizers clearly had the young audience in mind; the target group was clearly defined.
“It’s definitely based on the premise that the young generation doesn’t have the patience to attend a 90-minute football game,” explained marketing expert Mario Leo to the DPA. At the same time, the format with its football field romance could also appeal to older football fans who associate it with their own youth and still wistfully remember the DFB’s indoor tournaments in winter.
Nevertheless, Leo still sees question marks when it comes to the potential success of the league. Also because it will start late on January 22nd, the start of the season was actually planned for the beginning of January. “Communicatively, I find this unfortunate, to put it mildly, and not very understandable,” says Leo. “It seems a bit forced to start, pushed to the start, brought over the finish line.”
Twitch, Joyn and Prosieben Maxx: this is how the Baller League is broadcast
From 6:45 p.m. on January 22nd, the games will be shown on Twitch and the Joyn platform; the top game of the day will be broadcast live on the TV channel “Prosieben Maxx”. There are six matches per match day, of which there are a total of eleven (each team plays against each other once) and which are played every Monday. A final round is scheduled to take place on April 6th.
Mats Hummels says about his own league: “It’s simply a nice addition for everyone who loves the football field football and the indoor tournaments of the past, presented in an innovative and new format.” However, he, Podolski and Co. are not the only ones who came up with the idea of copying the Kings League. The footballer Toni Kroos and the streamer Elias Nehrlich are working on their Icon League, which is scheduled to start in the summer and the Kings League itself is planning to gain a foothold outside of Europe.
Sources: ; ; DPA
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