Court ruling sets back LaLiga Miami game plan


LaLiga‘s attempt to stage a league game in the United States has had another setback with a Madrid court rejecting its appeal of an earlier ruling that had prevented a Barcelona match at Girona from being played in Miami.

A Spanish court had ruled on March 2020 in favour of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), which was opposed to having league games overseas.

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An RFEF statement said: “The following conclusions are drawn from the sentence notified this morning: the Spanish justice endorses for league games outside of Spain to be prohibited, it condemns the League once again to pay the costs of the judicial process and again the courts pronounce themselves in favour of the RFEF in a judicial process with the League.”

LaLiga, which is considering an appeal of this latest sentence to Spain’s Supreme Court, said in a statement on Thursday: “The internationalisation of Spanish football is a key issue for the future of the industry. Consequently, it will continue to work towards achieving the crucial objective of holding a match outside of Spain.”

LaLiga president Javier Tebas has faced resistance not only from Spain’s FA but also FIFA in his attempts to stage LaLiga games in the United States. Players and fans were also opposed to games being staged overseas.

Sources told ESPN that LaLiga did not view this most recent judgment as a definitive ruling on the issue of playing games abroad, but was focused on how such decisions should be made by Spanish football’s governing bodies.

LaLiga signed a 15-year marketing agreement with Relevent Sports in August 2018 to promote the sport in North America and expand its brand.

The deal included hosting one regular season Spanish league game on American soil every year — with Girona’s home match against Catalan neighbours Barcelona earmarked for January 2019 at the home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

While the Spanish FA blocked LaLiga from staging games overseas, it did take the 2018 Spanish Super Cup to Tangier, Morocco.

The RFEF then signed a €120m deal for the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah to host the Supercup for three years. It was moved to Spain last season due to COVID-19.

The Spanish FA did say earlier this year that it was open to discussing with LaLiga “the issue of playing games overseas” as part of making changes to the format to make the league more attractive.

Tebas said in May that LaLiga will keep trying to take league games to the United States.

ESPN’s Alex Kirkland contributed to this report.

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