Luigi De Siervo, chief executive of Serie A, has suggested the Italian league could try to play an official game abroad, if Fifa and Uefa change their rules regarding such fixtures.
La Gazetta dello Sport reports De Siervo made the comments at the 24Ore Business School Sport & Business summit in Milan.
“Our proposal is that there be at least one match per season abroad,” said the Serie A chief executive. “Our challenge, and that of other European leagues, is to go and conquer new markets and this is done by going to play abroad, to create stronger relations with our league and our country.”
De Siervo suggested LaLiga’s struggles to play a league fixture in the United States indicated such a move was not possible under the current Fifa and Uefa regulations.
“For the current rules, no, it must be said, the precursor is the Spanish League, which for some years has been trying to make a first official league match play abroad. We hope this can happen,” he said.
“It is something that RCS [RCS Sport, the organisers of the Giro D’ Italia] also does with a prologue abroad of the Giro d’Italia and this allows us to open up to new markets, to sell a product, they already do this by freeing up American sports leagues. Fifa and then Uefa create certain rules”.
LaLiga announced plans to play at least one match per season overseas as part of a 15-year partnership with Relevent Sports to promote the league, but the proposal has met with strong opposition from the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and Fifa.
The Spanish league launched a lawsuit against the RFEF over its refusal to sanction a match between Barcelona and Girona in Miami in January. Fifa, the governing body for world football also voiced its opposition to the plan, with the Fifa Council backing the principle that: “official league matches must be played within the territory of the respective member association.”
The planned game was eventually shelved after Barcelona’s board of directors backed out of the fixture citing a ‘lack of consensus’ among stakeholders.
The Spanish league has now submitted a request to play a Villarreal-Atlético Madrid fixture at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium on December 6, but RFEF president Luis Rubiales said LaLiga would need the “permission from five bodies that it does not have”. Aside from the RFEF, he said the relocation would require the approval of Fifa, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Football (Concacaf), the United States Soccer Federation and Major League Soccer.
Serie A has also identified the US as a key market having recently announced it would open an office in the country. At the time the news was revealed, De Siervo told RadioSOI Sport: “The US will be the theatre of football in the coming years because it will host the final phase of the men’s and women’s World Cups.”
The curtain-raiser to the Italian season, the Supercoppa Italiana, which is contested between the winners of Serie A and the Coppa Italia the previous season, is already played overseas. The competition, which is also organised by Lega Serie A, was heavily criticised over the decision to host this season’s match in Saudi Arabia following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey.