La Liga president Javier Tebas on Tuesday claimed that resistance to the controversial plans to hold a Spanish top-flight game in the United States is “cultural”.
The match between Girona and Barcelona on January 26 is scheduled to be played at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, despite strong opposition and fears that the Catalan giants would effectively be gifted an extra home game.
The two clubs involved support the idea, but Barca’s arch rivals Real Madrid reportedly protested to the Spanish FA over the matter last week, while the country’s players’ association and football federation have both rejected the proposal.
“There is resistance, but it’s not really a surprise for me. There’s a cultural reason, it’s a story of bureaucracy, because it’s new,” Tebas said at sports marketing conference Sportel in Monaco.
“It’s a bit like video refereeing — the football family rejected it for years and all of a sudden at the World Cup in Russia we realised that it was fantastic.”
Spain has played its season-opening Super Cup final outside the country, but taking the league — and especially title contenders in Barcelona — abroad would be far more contentious.
The English Premier League proposed an extra round of matches to be played overseas 10 years ago, but after much debate the ‘Game 39’ plan was shelved in 2010.
“When we play a Super Cup in Morocco, everyone thinks it’s all right, but then, because it’s a league game, it’s ‘no’. We don’t want to take all of the teams in the league to the USA, we just want to play one match,” insisted Tebas.
“That would be to ignore the football industry and all that it brings to Spain. We’re continuing to work on the project for a relocated match and on the development of the La Liga brand in the United States.”
Barcelona toured the United States in pre-season earlier this year, and last week also announced plans to enter their women’s team into the USA’s National Women’s Soccer League from next season.
© Agence France-Presse (Additional Edits By Oisin McQueirns)