We grew up loving and playing soccer in America at a different time. Games weren’t broadcast, we didn’t have social media and we tried to keep track of our overseas heroes by reading about them in newspapers.
In 1994, the World Cup came here, breaking attendance records that still stand. Americans caught soccer fever. The sport has since exploded, becoming the the third most played sport in America, ahead of baseball, and we have a thriving domestic pro league.
We think the sport is ready to have its next big moment. That’s why we strongly support the plan to bring one of the world’s elite leagues, Spain’s LaLiga, to America. On Jan. 26, FC Barcelona and Girona will play the first ever regular season club match abroad in the USA. Fans will pour into Miami, a boon of millions of dollars for the local economy. Messi and Suaréz will be on the pitch. We can’t imagine what it would have meant to us as kids to see our heroes live.
Some opposed this plan. It’s not surprising, the sport is resistant to change. We believe this will be great for American soccer – a rising tide lifts all boats. A decade ago, many thought the same about the NFL’s International Series, and similar programs in the NBA, MLB and NHL. By all measures, these experiments are a success. We believe this match will cause more kids to play and more people to watch the sport. That’s a good thing.
Soccer politics are complex, but we believe fans should have the loudest voice. To show our support for the match, we signed our names to the petition at BringUSTheGame.com, joining more than 30,000 fans.
It’s good for the fans. It’s good for the game. It’s good for Miami. It’s good for LaLiga and, most important, American soccer.
Tony Meola, former member, U.S. national soccer team in the 1990,’94, and ‘02 World Cups
John Harkes, member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame