The Daily Star (Lebanon)
La Liga launches petition to garner support for Miami game
BARCELONA: Faced with massive opposition from sporting institutions over its plan to play a regular season game between Barcelona and Girona in Miami, La Liga has launched a petition to garner mass support for its troubled project.
The Miami match between Girona and Barcelona would be the first game 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 United States every year.
“This national grassroots campaign will highlight the growing popularity of soccer in America and the desire from American fans to bring the greatest soccer league in the world to the U.S. to play the first ever European club regular season match held outside of Europe,” a statement from La Liga said.
The Spanish football federation (RFEF) has put the brakes on the league’s plans by demanding more information on January’s game, which must also be approved by the United States Soccer Federation along with regional bodies UEFA and CONCACAF.
The proposals were dealt a fresh blow when the president of world football’s organizing body FIFA, Gianni Infantino, declared at a council meeting last week in Rwanda that “official match leagues must be played within the territory of the respective member association.”
La Liga has stated that it will take its case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if FIFA formally opposes its plans.
The launch of the petition, meanwhile, is an attempt by the league and Relevent to counter the institutional opposition by showing that the project counts on grassroots support.
“La Liga is planning on bringing a regular season match to America for the first time ever – but we need your help to make this event happen,” a statement on the website of the petition said.
“Some of the key decision-makers are falsely claiming it won’t be good for the game in the U.S. So we, the fans, need to fight for this match by telling them: It’s good for the fans. It’s good for the game.
“Are you in? The more support we have, the harder we’ll be to ignore,” the statement said.
Stephen Ross, chairman and owner of Relevent, added that playing a Spanish top-flight game in the U.S. would further accelerate the growth of football in the country.
“All of America’s top sports leagues – The NBA, The NFL and MLB – have played regular season games all over the world to reach international fans and have great success popularizing these sports globally,” Ross said.
“We firmly believe this will have the same impact in increasing the popularity of soccer here in the U.S., with more kids playing and more fans watching.” –