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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 November 2018

Barcelona v Girona in Miami set to be shelved after lack of support

La Liga had hoped to stage one regular league fixture per season in the United States but the various governing bodies have not given their approval

Lionel Messi and his Barcelona team are not expected to play Girona in Miami. Reuters
Lionel Messi and his Barcelona team are not expected to play Girona in Miami. Reuters

Plans to stage a Primera Liga game between Barcelona and Girona in the United States have been shelved as the move lacks the necessary support from various organisations needed to approve the plans, Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales said.

The RFEF informed the league's organising body that it cannot approve plans to hold Barca's showdown with Girona on January 26 at Miami's 65,000-capacity Hard Rock Stadium until it receives more information.

According to the statutes of world governing body Fifa, the national federation, regional organisations Uefa and Concacaf as well as the United States soccer federation must give the green light before the game can take place.

The Miami match would be the first to take place as part of a 15-year deal struck between La Liga and entertainment company Relevent to play one Spanish regular season game in the US every year.

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"There's not a single institution that needs to give it the OK that has said yes," Rubiales told Spanish newspaper Diario Sport.

"Fifa and [president Gianni] Infantino have said [that they reject the move]. Uefa haven't said yes either, nor have Concacaf nor the United States federation.

"It's worrying to sign something without counting on the support of those who have to say yes."

Fifa president Infantino said in September he was against the idea of playing a regular season game abroad, stating "in football the general principle is that you play a 'home' match at 'home', and not in a foreign country".

A spokeswoman for Concacaf told Reuters it had not received a formal request to approve the move. Concacaf president Victor Montagliani previously said he has the same opinion as Infantino on the matter.

A spokesman for the US federation declined to comment.

"This measures damages the league's integrity. When I played for Levante we avoided relegation thanks to earning a draw at home to Barcelona. Playing at home was fundamental to that," Rubiales added.

La Liga, which intends on taking the case to court if the federation does not approve its plans, want to follow the examples set by American sports, such as the NFL and NBA, to promote its brand abroad.

"We want to continue to grow our league and football around the world. We firmly believe that’s good for all parties involved, fans, players, clubs, league as well as for the Spanish economy and to promote Spain abroad," a La Liga spokesman told Reuters.

On Tuesday, La Liga president Javier Tebas said he did not understand why his plans had been met with so much opposition.

"I'm still asking myself this, why so much resistance to a business strategy?" Tebas said.

"I think a lot of it is cultural. Cultural in that the bureaucracy that football has built is very different than the American sports leagues."