Fast, dynamic football, very similar to a video game, which can appeal to young people—this is the goal that Gerard Piqué set himself when he decided to found the Kings League. This tournament, which is held in Spain, is already very famous on social media and has generated, as often happens, both appreciation and criticism.
But what exactly is the Kings League, and how does it work? Let’s find out by taking a look at his creative rules and the rosters of the teams participating in this competition, where it is also possible to find a mysterious footballer.
First, what is the Kings League? It is a 7-a-side football championship that has been held every Sunday since January 2023. The main rules are those of the most popular sport in the world, to which, however, are added those of other disciplines. For example, the kick-off is very similar to that of water polo: the ball is in the center, and the two teams run towards the ball from the baseline in search of first possession.
Any other special rules? In the event of a tie, there are no classic penalty kicks but shootouts (famous in the MLS of the 1990s); the Var is on call; the substitutions are unlimited; and then there is the mechanic that most of all dictates the matches: the wild cards. Five can be drawn, including one before the match. The latter can give teams special bonuses, such as the possibility of making the next goal count for double, expelling an opposing player for a few minutes, or obtaining a free penalty.
There are twelve participating teams, and they too must comply with some particular rules. They are made up of a total of twelve players: ten of these are people who have openly registered for the tournament and were then selected through a draft that has been very popular online on Twitch; the other two are professional players or former footballers. Among them are well-known names such as Chicharito Hernandez, Sergio Garcia, Jonathan Soriano, and Joan Capdevila. Among them, however, is also a mysterious footballer named Enigma.
Enigma is a footballer who participates in the Kings League, but the peculiarity is that he does so by hiding his identity. He takes to the field with a wrestler’s mask covering his face, gloves, and long sleeves that can cover his revealing tattoos. Naturally, many theories have already begun to circulate about him. There are those who even think that he may be a professional footballer who, violating his contract with his club, participates in this crazy tournament in secret. One name above all that circulated on social media was that of Denis Suarez, a Villarreal midfielder, but he himself wanted to deny these rumors so as not to risk ending up in a whirlwind of controversy.
So who could this Enigma wearing the number 69 shirt be? Due to his not too imposing physique, many have even thought of Isco or Hazard, with the Spaniard currently free and looking for a team. But what convinces Kings League fans the most is the theory born from an image that may have betrayed the identity of the mysterious footballer. Through some photographs taken of the masked player, a tattoo on his neck was glimpsed that closely resembles that of Nano Mesa, a twenty-seven-year-old forward from Cadiz. At this point, we just have to wait and hope that sooner or later his identity will be revealed, as happened with Rey Mysterio in the WWE.
Piqué’s Kings League took very little time to be talked about. First of all because of its particular format, which, as mentioned, is very reminiscent of a video game. The frenzy of the matches combined with the comments of the most famous Spanish streamers and influencers is a perfect combination to attract a young audience. To all this, however, we must also add the presence of some very famous ex-footballers. First of all, of course, the name of the founder must be mentioned: the former Barcelona player is always very present, especially in the post-match. But there are also off-field appearances by other big names like Sergio Agüero (president of a club) and Iker Casillas.
The success of the Kings League has also reached the upper echelons of Spanish football, which wasted no time in commenting on this new sports format in a somewhat different way. LaLiga president Javier Tebas commented on the tournament, calling it a circus: “It’s not about attracting a young audience or not; all of this is wrong.” And Gerard Piqué’s response obviously didn’t take long to arrive on Twitter: “Welcome to the circus,” while his tournament continues to have a great resonance, bringing with it a lot of hype and the goal of becoming a real alternative to football. Perhaps the Kings League is the real Super League that many have been waiting for.