LaLiga clubs Barcelona and Girona, along with the organisers of Spanish top-tier football, have applied to seek permission from Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to stage the matchday 21 fixture between the two clubs, scheduled to be played on 26 January, at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium.
The announcement from LaLiga brings it one step closer to its expansion plans in US despite protest from several parties including FIFA and Spanish FA. LaLiga has said that it also completed several key steps with several stakeholders.
This comes after several reports followed by a statement from LaLiga chief Javier Tebas, who said that there is a 90% possibility of Barcelona and Girona playing in the first game of the Spanish top-tier league US, as a part of 15-year deal with Relevant Sports to take Spanish top-flight soccer to the North American subcontinent.
The request, signed by FC Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu, Girona FC President Delfí Geli and LaLiga President Javier Tebas, was submitted to the RFEF after successfully completing the first key steps with several stakeholders.
One of the elements of the request is the compensation offered to Girona season-ticket holders, who have this fixture included in their season ticket. LaLiga has claimed that the compensation package has been welcomed by Aficiones Unidas (AFEPE), an association of fan clubs.
In the request, clubs and LaLiga also explained that they will work hand in hand with the main Spanish government institutions, as well as other federations and sports entities, to promote Spanish football and its values as a vehicle for developing the Brand Spain in North America.
The proposed LaLiga match in Miami is part of LaLiga North America, a wide-ranging and long-term joint venture announced in August between LaLiga and Relevent, a multinational media, sports and entertainment group. LaLiga North America is targeted at promoting football in the United States and Canada.
However, LaLiga still has to go a long way to see the US expansion project to come to fruition as the plans require official nod from FIFA, RFEF, UEFA, CONCACAF, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), Spain’s National Sports Council and its foreign ministry. FIFA president Gianni Infantino, RFEF and Spanish Football Player’s Union (AFE) have already shown strong dissent to LaLiga’s US plans. AFE has even threatened with a player strike last month.