Gerard Piqué’s Masterpiece: The Kings League

The traditional 11-a-side soccer game has been played for hundreds of years, but former defender for Futbol Club Barcelona and the Spanish National Team Gerard Piqué is seeking to heighten the excitement around the game with the aim of making the sport more appealing to new audiences.

Together with Ibai Llanos, Spain’s most famous esports online streamer, Piqué announced the creation of a new football league just after his time with Barcelona came to a close in 2022. Coined the “Kings League,” this 12-team league began playing in January 2023 in Piqué’s hometown of Barcelona.

To add a new twist to the game, Piqué’s league has a seven-a-side format, with each team consisting of 12 total players. The teams draw from both local and international professional talent. Flying in from the U.S., Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, a star striker for LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer, made an exciting one-off appearance in the Kings League earlier this year.

The 12 teams are coached by an eclectic collection of football legends, esports streamers and influencers. Sergio Kun Agüero, Manchester City’s record goalscorer, and Real Madrid’s goalkeeping legend Iker Casillas are two notable coaches who took their talents to the Kings League this winter. With the integration of major social media figures on staff, Piqué hopes to draw a younger audience.

Games are played every Sunday and are available for free live streaming on Twitch, YouTube and TikTok. The games boast a new take on soccer — featuring a shortened 40-minute game, a “sin bin” for yellow and red cards, teams lining up at their goalines for kickoff and, most importantly, the coaches each drawing a “golden card” at the beginning of each match. Blindly selecting between five cards, the “golden card” serves as a “power-up,” providing advantages like an instant penalty kick to a team.

The Kings League has been successful thus far, drawing in as many as 1 million viewers per live stream and accumulating sponsorships from Spotify, Adidas and Casio, according to ESPN.

However, not everyone is happy with Gerald Piqué and his new league, with some shaming Piqué for his unorthodox take on the historic sport.

In spite of backlash, Piqué hopes to continue expanding his project by adding a Queens League for women to compete.

When the league’s general director Oriol Querol was asked by ESPN about whether more Kings League franchises would be established in Europe, he smiled and said: “Definitely, why not? You always have to shoot for the stars.”