MADRID — La Liga president Javier Tebas revealed he is pushing ahead with plans for Spain’s top-flight to play one league game per year in the USA.
After opposition from several leading figures in Spanish and world soccer, including from FIFA president Gianni Infantino and CONCACAF, plans for Barcelona to play Girona in Miami, Florida in Jan. 2019 were scrapped.
La Liga is now locked in a legal battle with the Spanish Football Association as several clubs expressed their concerns about hosting games overseas, while the Spanish league has asked soccer fans in the USA to sign a petition in favor of a league game being played in the U.S. in the near future.
On Thursday in Spain, Tebas was asked by Pro Soccer Talk about why La Liga plans to push ahead with games staged in the USA. He was adamant they will continue to pursue their dream of staging a regular-season game Stateside.
“We want one match, one per season. It is the only place in the world we want to do this,” Tebas said. “Why? Because it is part of our international strategy. The same as the big American competitions play a match outside their country. That is bring to bring the game closer to their fans abroad. One match out of the 380 matches that are played. We thought it was interesting because it is a global phenomenon. Everybody has found out about it. It would really help us to increase our brand value in the United States.”
Tebas insisted that La Liga is not trying to compete with MLS for fans, which is one of the concerns about them staging more than one match per season on U.S. soil.
“Our plan for the United States is to continue to grow, we have a strategic agreement with Relevent Sports, which is one of the main companies for sports management for other sports aside from football. We have a 15-year agreement, so we really want to grow and we really want to help American football grow. We don’t compete against MLS,” Tebas continued.
“With all the football fans they have, and a lot of football is played at school, we will be seen on the television more. But that is the same for everyone, not just for the Premier League or whatever. We want football in general to grow. Because if football grows in general in the United States, why can’t I grow there too? I really think that is the path we should go on, and that is the path we are working on.”
The battle with the Spanish FA and other stakeholders to play games in the U.S. will go on, as Tebas remains adamant that it is crucial for La Liga’s global growth.