YON DE LUISA PLAZAS

Mexico 2020 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

Mexico's Liga MX is among the world's top-10 football leagues, and FEMEXFUT plans to push it into the top three by improving four key pillars, namely sporting success, sports justice, international relations, and social responsibility.

Yon de Luisa Plazas
BIOGRAPHY

Yon de Luisa Plazas is the President of FEMEXFUT. He is also the vice president of Concacaf. He has more than 15 years of experience working in Mexico's sports industry. Prior to his current position, he was the president of Club America, vice president of Televisa Deportes, and executive director of the organizing committee for the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico. He also represented Mexico as bid director for the United 2026 FIFA World Cup Bid.

Mexico's Liga MX is considered among the top 10 in the world. How can it make it into the top five or three?
There will always be competition between football leagues concerning the audience. On one hand, there is the natural struggle to have the best players possible, which involves adequate investments, bringing in talented international players, and developing solid Mexican players. Then, we need to factor in things such as excellent stadiums with quality transport links and catering. Liga MX is among the top 10 and always faces the challenge by improving year by year.

What steps is FEMEXFUT taking to prepare for the 2026 World Cup?
We are working with FIFA and federations from Canada and the US in order to define the 16 final venues that will host the event: three in Canada, three in Mexico, and 10 in the US. The final decision will be made in 2H2020. There will be 16 venues for 80 matches, out of which 10 will take place in Canada, 10 in Mexico, and 60 in the US. That was part of the bid terms, although the final decision will be made by the FIFA president and remains to be determined. It is a long project because after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, we will step on the gas for 2026. Meanwhile, there are still some decisions of a technical nature as we can only speculate as to the nature of technology available in 2026. Those final technological requirements will be set on the table late in 2022 or in early 2023. We already have the infrastructure ready, however. If the matches were to be played next week, Canada, Mexico, and the US could host the event because the stadiums are already built, and we have the required airports, hotels, hospitals, and training sites. Everything is ready, though the requirements will change in the upcoming years, and we will have to make some improvements. Brazil, South Africa, and Qatar are the best examples of where previous competitions were a huge issue because they had to build stadiums. This will be the first World Cup hosted by three countries. It is also noteworthy because Mexico will become the first country to host three World Cups. We previously hosted the event in 1970 and 1986.

What role does Mexican football play in the broader economy?
It is tough to say. In the first division, there are 450-500 professional players, so this is an industry of 500 top-flight players. Then, there is the under 17s, under 20s, and women's leagues, so we are talking about 2,000 players. For any big company, that is a small number. However, we are highly visible on TV, radio, and social networks. As for our online presence, we are competing with Brazil in terms of fans and followers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. When we compare Mexico to other federations by national team, we rank number two. Brazil is number one, though Brazil's numbers include the leagues. If we add the Liga MX numbers to that, we would be the number one in the world. For an industry with 2,000 professional employees, that is fairly impressive.

What is your vision for 2020?
2020 is a year to consolidate. In 2H2020, we will begin playing the qualifiers for the World Cup in Qatar. Another goal is to help the players of the under-17 Warrior, which recently got the second position in Brazil. If we can help these players, it will be a huge achievement toward 2026 and 2030. Our focus is on improving our four pillars, namely sporting success, sports justice, international relations, and social responsibility. We want to promote football further because we are fully aware of its impact on our affiliates and followers. After all, it inspires Mexicans in a positive way.