Tuesday, February 19, 2019 | ePaper
Spanish football should be proud of foreign interest, says La Liga official
"The world is our playing field," says an inscription on the wall at La Liga's headquarters in Madrid, written in Spanish: "El mundo es nuestro campo de juego."
It seems an apt motif, as Spanish football confronts questions about the very essence of its national game, and where it should call home.
"If we want to remain competitive, we have to open ourselves to the world," La Liga's director of international development, Oscar Mayo, told AFP.
But others are still to be convinced.
La Liga was informed by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) on Friday that it would not support hosting January's league game between Girona and Barcelona in Miami. The two sides play the reverse fixture at Camp Nou on Sunday.
At board level, both clubs have put their names to La Liga's request but key players retain doubts.
Even if the RFEF changed its mind, the plan needs approval from the US Soccer Federation, as well as UEFA and CONCACAF - the governing bodies in charge of European and North American football respectively - and the Spanish sport council.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui have expressed reservations while Barcelona's Ernesto Valverde appears a reluctant advocate. "It is our intention, but there is a long way to go," he said.
La Liga are not deterred. Mayo said there were two red lines that would not be crossed: "It will never be more than one match (in a season)" and "It will not be the Clasico".
La Liga has a 15-year agreement with Relevent Sports to promote football in the US and Canada. Some speculate that if the move is blocked this season it would only amount to a postponement, not a cancellation.
"It's like when we changed kick-off times," Mayo said.
"Whenever you are innovative and make a sudden change it is difficult to adapt, but we also know that as soon as we do, as time passes, we will all agree that it was a wise decision."
The partnership with Relevent was one of two deals struck last summer which have excited La Liga.