The LaLiga US project is reportedly set to see the light of the day 7th January, 2019 when first ever overseas match of the Spanish top tier football will be played between Barcelona and Girona in Miami.
Despite protests from governing bodies, including FIFA president Gianni Infantino, and Spanish players association, LaLiga will stage its domestic league fixture for the first time in US as part of a 15-year deal with global sport, media and entertainment company Relevent Sports.
According to media reports, FC Barcelona will face Girona FC in Miami for a league fixture on 27th January, 2019 at the Hard Rock Stadium. The 65,326-seater venue is home to the National Football League’s (NFL) Miami Dolphins and is owned by Stephen Ross, who also owns Relevent Sports.
The report states that as the designated home team, 1,500 free flights will be made available to Girona season-ticket holders, with a $577.8 (€500) deposit to be handed down as confirmation of a ticket purchase, with a $693.3 (€600) alternative available with the additional cost going towards a hotel booking. The deposit is then returned after the trip.
Among the ‘extraordinary’ options offered is a flight into the United States that will leave Spain on the same day as the game, before returning to Girona immediately afterwards.
A further 5,000 free tickets will be given to the club by Barcelona for the two clubs’ first clash of the season, at Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium on 23rd September. In addition, season-ticket holders who choose to accept the free ticket to the Nou Camp fixture rather than flying to the US to watch the game will be handed a 20 per cent return on the price of their season tickets.
Those who choose neither to attend the away game in Barcelona nor the ‘home’ clash at the Hard Rock Stadium will receive close to 40 per cent of the cost of their season-tickets returned.
However the LaLiga’s global expansion plans still remain in the soup as the Spanish football’s players’ union (AFE) threatened a strike after the LaLiga organisers inked a deal with Relevent Sports to stage matches in US without consulting them.
The plans were also opposed by FIFA president Infantino who said that an approval was needed from the world governing body 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,” said Infantino during his visit to White House to meet US President Donald Trump in the last week of August.
In order for the games to take place, the move must be ratified by FIFA, UEFA, CONCACAF, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Spain’s National Sports Council and its foreign ministry.
Despite resistance, LaLiga has also revealed plans last month to stage the matches in Mexico. Nuño Pérez-Pla de Alvear, La Liga’s managing director in Mexico and the Caribbean, told reporters at a Press event in Mexico City about the organisation’s desire to enter one of its biggest overseas markets.