Spanish league trying again to take soccer game to Miami
The Spanish league is trying again to take a regular season game to Miami despite abandoning plans last season after facing opposition from other soccer bodies.
The Spanish soccer federation has been asked to allow Villarreal's home game against Atletico Madrid on Dec. 6 to be moved to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.
The league runs the top tier of Spanish soccer, known in Spain as La Liga. The Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) controls regulations and fixtures for professional and amateur games.
The league said it had consulted more widely than last season when the planned Barcelona-Girona game for January in Miami was abandoned. The federation wouldn't grant approval and Spain's players' association protested the plans because it had not been consulted.
"The players and coaches of both teams have been informed and have shown their enthusiasm for being able to play in front of fans in the United States," the league said in a statement on Thursday. "The Association of Spanish Footballers has also been informed of the request."
But the stumbling blocks could be further afield.
The FIFA council recently opposed the idea last year, although its permission for the match was not mandatory. But approval could be rejected from the regional confederations impacted - UEFA in Europe and CONCACAF in North America.
"This match will be another boost to the internationalization strategy of LaLiga, which is providing great results for all our member clubs," league president Javier Tebas said. "We hope that this time we can carry out this positive action for everyone, as other leagues like the NFL or the NBA do when they stage matches overseas."
Villarreal season ticket-holders would be compensated for losing out on a home game. They could receive a 40% discount on their next season ticket purchase, free entry and travel for up to 3,000 fans to the away game at Atletico's Wanda Metropolitano or a paid-for trip to Miami for up to 600 people, the league said.
Atletico is currently third in the league - behind Barcelona and leader Real Madrid - with Villarreal midtable.
Villarreal's president, Fernando Roig, said exporting a league game benefits the whole of Spanish soccer.
"The United States is a very important country, where Villarreal already has official academies and carries out different activities for the development of football," Roig said in a statement.
The game would kick off at 4 p.m. local time, which is 10 p.m. in Spain.
"Atlético de Madrid works every season to expand and improve our brand across all continents and this match in the United States will allow us to keep working on this," Atletico CEO Miguel Ángel Gil said. "Furthermore, we will be able to bring Spanish football closer to fans who live outside of our country."
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