LaLiga’s global expansion plan to stage the Spanish top division football league fixtures in the USA have run into a new hurdle to add to the protest by clubs. Now, FIFA president Gianni Infantino has decided against backing the move.
Infantino, while visiting US President Donald Trump at White House, has stated that FIFA’s approval was needed for LaLiga to play regular season matches in the US and that he does not wish to back the move. “I think I would prefer much more a great MLS game in the US rather than LaLiga being in the US,” Infantino said while acknowledging that he is just “the FIFA President”.
The FIFA Chief was in the US capital on Tuesday to meet Trump and discuss the organisation and preparations for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which the US will jointly host with Canada and Mexico.
“There are procedures in place for these things, so we will wait to receive anything official and then we’ll look into it. There are rules, regulations that everyone complies with. Such a proposal has to be approved by the respective associations, by the respective confederations and by FIFA, and there has to be special reason for it,” Infantino added further.
LaLiga had announced a deal this month with global sports, media and entertainment company Relevent Sports. The deal would see the formation of an equal joint venture – LaLiga North America – that will stage the Spanish league fixtures in USA and Canada, the first to be played outside Europe to promote and cultivate the football culture in the North American continent.
This resulted in a contention and huge discord with the Spanish football players’ union (AFE) that criticised the move and threatened a strike as the deal was inked without consulting the players of the top-flight Spanish football league.
Despite the uproar, LaLiga has already hinted at plans to stage some of the league games in Mexico, too. Nuño Pérez-Pla de Alvear, LaLiga’s managing director in Mexico and the Caribbean, has told reporters at a Press event in Mexico City about the organisation’s desire to enter one of its biggest overseas markets.
FIFA is not the only hurdle. LaLiga has to cross a lot more barriers to bring to fruition the first stage of its global expansion dreams, an unprecedented move from a European league giant. The project will also need backing and approval from UEFA, CONCACAF, US Soccer Federation and the Real Federación Española de Fútbol as well as relevant Spanish government and sports authorities.