Sunday, 15 October 2023, 09:01
Malaga's La Rosaleda stadium provided a spectacular setting as the finals of the Kings and Queens Cup football tournaments played out in front of a capacity crowd throughout Saturday afternoon and evening.
Over 30,000 mostly young fans came to watch the around eight hours of entertainment organised by former Barcelona footballer Gerard Piqué in collaboration with popular online streamer Ibai Llanos.
This was the showpiece event to conclude this particular series of seven-a-side football competitions which, in just a year, have revolutionised not only the sports world but also how football is perceived and experienced by a younger audience.
In the Kings Cup, Ultimate Móstoles, who had already earned qualification for the final, came out on top with a convincing 8-1 win over Los Troncos FC.
The defeated side, who boasted former Malaga man Joaquín in their 2-0 semi-final win over Aniquiladores, ultimately couldn't cope with the freshness of Ultimate Móstoles who claimed their first title.
The Queens Cup final was a lot closer. Aniquiladoras, having seen off PIO FC 2-1 in the semi-finals, had to face the already-qualified Saiyans FC in the final.
Aniquiladoras took a 2-0 lead in at half time and maintained it in a goalless second half to lift the trophy.
This form of seven-a-side football has generated a lot of interest not only because of the streamers involved in managing the teams, but also the alternative rules that teams have to abide by.
Of course, the games had to occupy a reduced section of Malaga CF's home turf, but this was not the only novelty (or gimmick) on display on Saturday.
Fans were also treated to the ball being launched by cannon onto the field of play for kick-offs, a large dice being catapulted to decide the number of players allowed on the pitch each during a short interval, and teams deploying their 'secret weapon' which entitled them to various advantages, including standard or even 'American' penalties (running from the halfway line).
Spectators were kept involved in the spectacle throughout, with live commentary broadcast around the ground, as well as cuts to the referee's microphones to ensure everyone knew the processes behind any VAR checks.
Between the games, there were also musical performances. First, Kiko Rivera opened the show with a mini concert, before Soge Culebra and Marc Seguí joined the women's final celebrations and provided the preview for the men's.
Throughout and around the stadium, there were also opportunities to purchase the shirts of these recently formed and up-and-coming sides whose prominence, if Saturday's attendance is anything to go by, will only grow in years to come.
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