MADRID: LaLiga, the organising body for Spain’s top two soccer divisions, contributed €15.7 billion (US$17.9 billion) to the country’s economy during the 2016/17 season, according to a new study by consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The recently released report shows that the economic impact equated to 1.37 per cent of Spain’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that year, with the soccer industry generating as many as 185,000 jobs.

The €15.7 billion figure included a €3 billion ‘direct impact’ generated by LaLiga clubs themselves and €5.6 billion worth of ‘indirect impact’ from soccer vendors. The rest was broken down into ‘sectors related to soccer’ (€4 billion) such as catering, accommodation and bars, and ‘spectator spending’ (€3.1 billion) on things like transport.

LaLiga and PwC last published a report in 2014, when it was revealed that Spanish soccer had an economic impact of €7.6 billion during the 2012/2013 season, equating to less than half the latest figure.

The report concluded that employment related to the soccer industry in Spain has gone up by 28 per cent compared to the last study four years ago, while fiscal contributions have increased by 41 per cent and the contribution to LaLiga’s financial activity has doubled.

Commenting on the findings, LaLiga president Javier Tebas said: “It confirms the enormous social and financial importance of professional football in our country and, subsequently, the importance of making responsible and well thought-out decisions about everything that affects an industry that is so relevant to our society.”