(Reuters) - In the face of growing opposition, La Liga pleaded its case to stage a regular-season match in the United States to the fans on Thursday, wrapping the front page of the Miami Herald with a full-page advertisement declaring “Bring Us The Game”.
Miami is poised to host on Jan. 26 the first La Liga regular season game held outside Spain with Barcelona taking on Girona at Hard Rock Stadium, home of NFL team the Miami Dolphins.
But FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, the Spanish FA and a number of teams have opposed La Liga’s 15-year deal with Relevent Sports to expand its presence in the U.S. market by taking one regular-season match per campaign over the Atlantic.
The Herald ad also included the names of 30,000 fans who signed a petition to bring La Liga to the U.S. and drew attention to a social media campaign behind the hashtag #BringUsTheGame.
The Spanish football federation (RFEF) has put the brakes on the league’s plans by demanding more information on January’s game, which must also be approved by the United States soccer federation and regional governing bodies UEFA and CONCACAF.
The proposals were dealt a new blow when FIFA President Gianni Infantino last month declared that “official match leagues must be played within the territory of the respective member association”.
La Liga has stated it will take its case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if FIFA formally opposes its plans.
La Liga said this month it would launch a grassroots campaign to highlight the growing popularity of soccer in the U.S. and the desire of American fans to bring the world’s greatest soccer league to play the first European club regular season match held outside Europe.
That message was made clear in bold, black type in the Herald on Thursday, urging fans; “Let’s do it together. For the Game, For the Fans. For Miami”.
There was also a message to the Spanish FA and FIFA with the ad noting that Spanish soccer benefits from a global fan base and that growing the sport benefits the game worldwide.
The billboard-style advert may help further convince U.S. soccer fans who really do not need any more convincing about the merits of staging a regular season game in Miami.
Soccer fans in the U.S. long ago bought into the idea of watching the world’s top clubs in action and Americans have always demonstrated that they will pay to see the world’s best.
For many years Americans have packed stadiums from New York to Los Angeles, paying top dollar for tickets, to watch glamour clubs like Manchester United and Real Madrid stroll through pre-season friendlies.
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond