Soccer

Here’s why La Liga is at odds with FIFA, Spanish federation over Barcelona-Girona Miami match

Lionel Messi and his Barcelona teammates may play a regular-season game against Girona at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami in January 2019, but FIFA and the Spanish federation are opposing the plan.
Lionel Messi and his Barcelona teammates may play a regular-season game against Girona at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami in January 2019, but FIFA and the Spanish federation are opposing the plan. AP

Not everybody in the soccer world is excited about FC Barcelona’s plans to play a regular-season game against Girona in Miami at Hard Rock Stadium on Jan. 26, 2019.

FIFA and the Spanish soccer federation have rejected the plan, proposed by La Liga and Relevent Sports, which is owned by Dolphins boss Stephen Ross. After the FIFA Council met in Rwanda, president Gianni Infantino said: “Following a request of guidance from the Spanish FA, U.S. Soccer and CONCACAF, the FIFA council discussed this matter - the proposal to host an official game of La Liga outside of Spain, Miami in particular.

“Consistent here with the opinion already expressed by football stakeholders committee, the council emphasized the sporting principle that official league matches must be played within the territory of the respective member association. So the council has very clear views on that.”

La Liga, Spain’s premier league, is so determined to play the Miami game that it took out a full-page cover ad in the Miami Herald on Thursday which included the message: “Bring US the Game. Let’s do it together. For the Game. For the Fans. For Miami.”

La Liga president Javier Tebas, speaking at the SoccerEx conference at Marlins Park, joked: “We have everyone opining on a La Liga match here in Miami. I’m just waiting for the UN to give their thoughts.”

He stressed that the games will benefit La Liga and the development of U.S. soccer, will include youth clinics, and would not threaten Major League Soccer. “If MLS asked me if they could play in Spain, I would say `yes,’ and if the Premier League asked me to play in Spain, I would say, `yes,’ and I would help them organize it.”

He added: “We still have 379 games that will be played in Spain. We can only have one - at the most two games [in the US]. We cannot have any more than that because it will ruin our industry and there is a very important national component to consider.

“I know most [La Liga] players want to come to play in the US ... The discussion in Spain is like comparing it to black and white TV — arguments that you cannot play a match abroad. They are making up these regulations as they go along. They know that they cannot ban these things because they are the future.”

Mas favors temporary site

Inter Miami co-owner Jorge Mas, speaking at SoccerEx, said he can see Marlins Park from his office and is a bit partial to the baseball stadium as a temporary home for his MLS team in 2020 and possibly some or all of 2021 while his Freedom Park stadium is built.

“Our options are Marlins Park, Hard Rock, and FIU, and we’ve looked at the potential of playing some games at FAU to broaden our fan base,” Mas said. “We are talking to all of those. (Marlins Park) is a beautiful facility. Personally, I like this facility. I wouldn’t mind being here. The big advantage is we are a Miami team and this is in the City of Miami. “

Mas also said the team has a short list of coaching candidates and he hopes to have a coach hired by summer or early fall of 2019.

Aguero in town: Sergio “Kun” Aguero, the Argentine Manchester City star forward, was in Miami Friday promoting PUMA. He appeared at the Soccer Locker store in Pinecrest.

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