Court rules Villarreal-Atlético match will not be held in Miami

Alvaro Morata competes for the ball with Funes Mori during the La Liga match between Atlético Madrid and Villarreal (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

A Madrid court has today (Friday) opted not to grant permission to stage a LaLiga match between Villarreal and Atlético Madrid in the US city of Miami.

LaLiga, which oversees the running of Spain’s top two football divisions, had planned on staging the match at Hard Rock Stadium, home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, on December 6.

In a statement issued today, LaLiga said it respects the decision of Madrid’s Mercantile Court No.12, with the matter to be permanently settled in February 2020. The Villarreal-Atlético match will now be played at Villarreal’s Estadio de la Cerámica.

LaLiga reiterated that staging an official match overseas remains a part of the organisation’s long-term strategy for international growth. “We hope that from February forth LaLiga will be able to organise an official match beyond Spanish borders,” its statement said.

“Bringing clubs closer to their global fans represents a significant opportunity to connect with them and to continue working to increase LaLiga’s followers around the world. This international growth leads to benefits for the clubs, their players, their fans, LaLiga as a whole, Spanish football and the brand of Spain.”

LaLiga’s plans have drawn opposition from the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and earlier this week Real Madrid wrote to the federation to express similar views on the Villarreal-Atlético match. The letter, which was also sent to Uefa and Fifa, said initiatives to stage LaLiga matches abroad “affects the integrity and fairness of the competition”.

The RFEF has also said this week that LaLiga’s plans could impact Spain’s chances of staging the Fifa World Cup national team tournament in 2030. RFEF lawyer Tomás González Cueto said that staging matches overseas could cause a loss of up to €50m ($55.1m).

LaLiga announced in August 2018 that it would play at least one match per season overseas as part of a new 15-year partnership with Relevent Sports to promote the league in North America.

A proposed game between Girona and Barcelona at Hard Rock Stadium for January 2019 was shelved after the former’s board of directors backed out of the fixture citing a “lack of consensus” among stakeholders.

This week, the RFEF signed a three-year deal to stage its revamped Supercopa club competition in Saudi Arabia, a move LaLiga president Javier Tebas believes will help his cause.