Spain federation won’t back La Liga plans to play in United States

Gab Marcotti details how playing in the United States can benefit all La Liga clubs, not just headline acts Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales has poured cold water on a plan to play regular-season La Liga games in the United States.

The federation boss says despite the support of the Spanish league, the move lacks support from the various organisations that need to approve the plans,

The RFEF informed the league’s organising body that it cannot approve plans to hold Barcelona’s showdown with Girona on Jan. 26 at Miami’s 65,000-capacity Hard Rock Stadium until it receives more information.

According to the statutes of world governing body FIFA, the national federation, regional organisations UEFA and CONCACAF as well as the United States soccer federation must give the green light before the game can take place.

The Miami match would be the first to take place as part of a 15-year deal struck between La Liga and entertainment company Relevent to play one Spanish regular season game in the U.S. every year.

“There’s not a single institution that needs to give it the OK that has said yes,” Rubiales told Spanish newspaper Diario Sport.

“FIFA and [president Gianni] Infantino have said [that they reject the move]. UEFA haven’t said yes either, nor have CONCACAF nor the United States federation.

“It’s worrying to sign something without counting on the support of those who have to say yes.”

FIFA president Infantino said in September he was against the idea of playing a regular season game abroad, stating “in football the general principle is that you play a ‘home’ match at ‘home,’ and not in a foreign country”.

A spokeswoman for CONCACAF told Reuters it had not received a formal request to approve the move. CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani previously said he has the same opinion as Infantino on the matter.

A spokesman for the U.S. federation declined to comment.

“This measures damages the league’s integrity. When I played for Levante we avoided relegation thanks to earning a draw at home to Barcelona. Playing at home was fundamental to that,” Rubiales added.

La Liga, which intends on taking the case to court if the federation does not approve its plans, want to follow the examples set by American sports, such as the NFL and NBA, to promote its brand abroad.

“We want to continue to grow our league and football around the world. We firmly believe that’s good for all parties involved, fans, players, clubs, league as well as for the Spanish economy and to promote Spain abroad,” a La Liga spokesman told Reuters.

On Tuesday, La Liga president Javier Tebas said he did not understand why his plans had been met with so much opposition.

“I’m still asking myself this, why so much resistance to a business strategy?” Tebas said. “I think a lot of it is cultural. Cultural in that the bureaucracy that football has built is very different than the American sports leagues.”

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