The reigning La Liga Champions, FC Barcelona, pulls out of their proposed league tie in Miami citing a ‘lack of consensus’ while remaining upbeat about one-day scraping studs on American soil.
The schoolyard opposite my LA pad (my mother-in-law’s house, but LA pad sounds much cooler) is full of basketball courts. There are a few American Football posts. A baseball ‘thing’ or two.
Nothing for the fans of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Robbie Savage.
There have been many attempts to grow interest in football throughout the United States, including hosting the World Cup on American soil back in 1994 (England never qualified, so I went to Glastonbury and got off my tits), but it’s never taken off.
In August, a new idea emerged after Tottenham Hotspur won the International Champions Cup, a pre-season competition organised by Relevant Sports, a marketing company created by Miami Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross.
Why not bring a competitive top-notch league match to America?
Ross scoured the globe for willing participants and found a picnic partner in the Spanish La Liga. The two entities signed a 15-year-deal, and speaking at the time, La Liga President, Javier Tebas, said, “It is among our short- or medium-term objectives to bring a game of the Spanish League every year to the United States.”
As it turned out, it became a short-term objective when LaLiga North America (the new entity created by La Liga and Relevant to run the ship in the USA and Canada) organised for the January 27 tie between Girona and Barcelona to take place in Miami.
The Americans would get to see Lionel Messi after all.
The Barcelona Board Kill The Idea (For Now)
On Monday, the Barcelona board met for a tete-a-tete and on the agenda was the Miami tie. Despite the full backing of La Liga President Javier Tebas, it seems The Spanish Players’ Association, Spanish Football Federation and FIFA President Gianni Infantino were against the idea, prompting the Barca board to release the following statement:
“The FC Barcelona Board of Directors have agreed to withdraw their disposal to play their game against Girona FC in Miami, after noting a lack of consensus over this proposal. FC Barcelona were and remain willing to play a La Liga game in Miami, and accepted that income from the game would be shared amongst all Primera División and Segunda División clubs, following the same criteria of television rights money distribution, but consider that this project will not prosper until there is an agreement between all parties.”
Writing at the time of the decision to hold a La Liga fixture in Miami, Deadspin scribe, Billy Haisley, spoke of the excitement for American football fans getting to see a match that matters without having to leave the country.
Unfortunately, given the nature of the beast, I doubt the American public will ever see a La Liga match that matters, with the fixture list always going to throw up a Hulk Hogan v Brooklyn Brawler type of game.
La Liga leaders, Barcelona is the 2/7 favourite to retain their La Liga crown, and the 5/1 second-favourites to win the Champions League. Girona is a 1,500-1 shot, currently sitting in ninth place.
It doesn’t matter how much you dress this up, it’s not a match that matters, and for now, it’s not a match that’s ever going to happen.