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  • Writer's pictureSPSG Consulting

The Interview - Fernando Corral, General Secretary at ASOBAL

We are honored to have the opportunity to discuss the present and future of the sports industry with Fernando Corral, Secretary General of ASOBAL - Asociación de Clubes de Balonmano de España. His experience and leadership in the industry are very relevant, and we greatly appreciate his time and insight in the December Newsletter. From his position as Secretary General of ASOBAL, as well as his recognition with the Bronze Medal of the Royal Order of Sports Merit in 2016, Fernando Corral has been a key figure in the evolution and success of handball in Spain. Throughout this conversation, we explore the transformative dynamics that have marked the path of the sport in our country, as well as the challenges and projections towards an increasingly promising future. Thank you, Fernando Corral, for sharing your valuable perspective with us.

Translated with DeepL.com (free version)


SPSG Consulting is advising ASOBAL in several strategic areas.


You have extensive experience in the sports industry, having been awarded in 2016 with the Bronze Medal of the Royal Order of Sports Merit and, currently, and since 2020, being Secretary General of ASOBAL. What have been, in your opinion, the main characteristics of the evolution of sport in Spain in recent years?


The sports industry is currently an economic engine in Spain. The forecast suggests that by 2023 it could contribute 5% of GDP, with almost 50,000 million in turnover. This means that sport leads not only in entertainment, but also in such a decisive aspect as the socioeconomic one. In Spain, the sports industry has been able to adapt to changing times, has professionalized its structures and has managed to escape stagnation. Beyond the athletes, who shine with their own light internationally and are becoming companies themselves, the sports ecosystem sector in Spain is at the forefront of innovation and technological development.


And all this with the same regulations since 1990, the industry has been ahead of the legislators and especially some players in the sector such as La Liga, true innovators in the sports ecosystem. 


The handball league in Spain has been managed since 1990 by ASOBAL (Asociación de Clubes de Balonmano de España), and on June 28, 2023, it was established as a Professional League, becoming the third sport in Spain with this category after soccer (men's and women's) and basketball. What are the main objectives and lines of action of ASOBAL? And what is its governance model?


The main objective of ASOBAL will continue to be that elite handball continues to grow and evolve without forgetting the grassroots, and that it has socio-economic interest. The fact that the competition has been recognized as a professional league reinforces our mission and encourages us to continue professionalizing the structures of our institution. ASOBAL is the showcase of Spanish handball, the mirror in which the children who today pursue the dream of becoming professionals in this sport look at themselves, and this fills us with responsibility to build a sustainable model, with a governance based on maximum professionalism that results in the growth, notoriety and economic prosperity of our clubs and of the institution itself.


We are drawing up a strategic plan that will have an impact in the short term, but that will also allow us to adapt to our new reality as a professional league in order to promote a sport that has a huge fan base in our country. We have to continue to pinch the passion of the fans so that handball can continue to grow in all senses and continue to develop the innate talent that this sport has.


Sponsorship certainly goes far beyond brand visibility, and more and more companies are conceptualizing it in a strategic way, integrating objectives of brand reputation, revenue generation, hospitality, market expansion, alignment with customer loyalty strategy, hospitality, alignment with talent loyalty strategy, etc. What are the main axes of ASOBAL's value proposition for sponsoring brands?


As you rightly say, branding is no longer a determining pillar in sponsorship processes. Companies seek to link themselves to the values of sport in a healthy, sustainable way that allows them to connect with their target in a natural way, without stridency, with experience as a banner. In this scenario, competitions that fail to adapt to the evolution of the advertising market lose the interest of sponsors. Therefore, in ASOBAL we are constantly looking for new assets that serve to make tailor-made suits for the brands that accompany us and those that are potentially in the market and look to handball as a firm and stable lever to enhance the image of their brand, to boost engagement with their fans and to extract from sports sponsorship a social return that goes beyond the economic.


In ASOBAL we seek to ensure that the intangibles that often accompany sports sponsorship are faithfully reflected in the direct return for brands. Therefore, in addition to building proposals firmly adapted to the objectives of the brands, we also focus on measurement and support so that the commitment of the companies that trust in ASOBAL is not a one-day flower, but becomes a stable and solid relationship that lasts over time. The handball territory is an excellent showcase for brands that are looking for something more than the application of the logo on an advertising medium.


The axis of sustainability, both social and environmental (apart, obviously, from economic sustainability, which is also supported by adequate governance), is of strategic importance for companies and entities related to sport. Handball is one of the most successful sports in recent years, both at national team and club level. From your expert point of view, what is the importance of incorporating the axes of social and environmental sustainability in sport and what are the main challenges? And what is the importance of sustainability in ASOBAL?


Sustainability is one of the cornerstones of our master plan for the coming years. The fundamental challenge lies in ensuring that the structures surrounding our sport continue to professionalize in a decisive manner. The soccer league is an example of how to adapt to the times without losing sight of sustainability. Logically, the economic chapter is fundamental for the structures of sport to be healthy and to be able to fully develop the concept of a sustainable model in all its aspects. We are not just looking for a label, but we are committed to making sustainability a common denominator in all our actions.

Far beyond what the concept itself encompasses, for us sustainability means that our processes and actions have a very recognizable DNA, which allows us to face the future with the guarantee that we are taking care of our fundamental pillars: sport with capital letters, the economy and the success of our clubs, our social mass, the territory where we are based, our executive structure, our youth, our digital environment, the companies that trust in our know-how and the human and professional wealth of our structure.


The sports industry generates, globally, between 1.5%-2% of the world's GDP and 3.3% of GDP in Spain, and it is evolving rapidly. As an expert in the sports sector, what do you think the sports sector will be like in 2030?


The forecast is that in 2023, according to the report prepared by Technavio, we will already be at 5% of GDP in Spain. Looking back, three years ago we were slightly above 3%. The growth is exponential and a symptom that things are being done well. It is clear that there is still a long way to go, but we are on the right track. If we follow the evolution and the sports structures continue to grow as they are doing to date, in 2030 we will be around 8-10%, but to get there and for sport to continue to be an indispensable vector for economic growth in Spain, and in the rest of the world, we all have the responsibility to adapt to the social evolution of entertainment and sport.

A society that consumes sport is a healthy society and we have to promote the positioning of our passion so that the economic growth of the sector is sustainable and remains firm above other industries that compete with us. The support and commitment of public and political bodies, which provide stability and mechanisms that favor the growth of the sports industry, will also be decisive so that in 2030 we will be talking about the fact that sport continues to break ceilings and break down barriers.

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