La Liga may not get permission from FIFA to hold Girona’s home game against Barcelona in Miami on Jan. 26, 2019, with president Gianni Infantino expressing doubt.
While plans to stage a game have been progressing, a decision has yet to be made by football’s world governing body and Infantino has admitted the idea is not appealing to him.
In a statement provided by FIFA to ESPN, Infantino said he is keen for the game to develop in the United States and is very supportive of Major League Soccer.
“I think I would prefer to see a great MLS game in the U.S. rather than La Liga being in the U.S,” Infantino said on a personal note. “In football, the general principle is that you play a ‘home’ match at ‘home’, and not in a foreign country.”
FIFA also said in the statement to ESPN that they have yet to receive a request by La Liga to stage the game in the United States.
“There are procedures in place for these things, so we will wait to receive anything official and then we’ll look into it,” the statement from Infantino said. “There are rules, regulations, that everyone complies with.
“In particular, such a proposal has to be approved by the respective associations, by the respective confederations and FIFA should also express a view on the matter, not least since it would have implications for football at global level as well.”
The plan for a regular-season game to be played overseas is part of La Liga’s 15-year marketing agreement with Relevent Sports in order to promote the sport in North America and expand its brand. It has been controversial, in particular with the Spanish players’ union, and requires approval from the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) as well as Spain’s sports council, UEFA, FIFA, U.S. Soccer and CONCACAF.
La Liga, Girona and Barcelona last week sent a formal request to the Spanish FA, which has yet to take a stance.
RFEF president Luis Rubiales met with Infantino and Spain’s Primer Minister Pedro Sanchez in a protocol meeting in Madrid last week, and a RFEF source told ESPN: “Among the issues discussed was the league game in the United States. FIFA president [Infantino] does not approve of it and would prefer if it didn’t take place.
“The RFEF has until January 5, 2019, to respond to La Liga’s petition but a decision will be made before that date.”
Meanwhile, Infantino’s words didn’t appear to sit well with La Liga president Javier Tebas, who used his Twitter account to aim a jab at the FIFA chief’s statement about MLS teams.
He said: “I will remind the president of @FIFAcom that in the @MLS, 3 CANADA teams participate, and @torontofc is the current champion, and in CANADA there is another professional league.”