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Fifa to formally discuss issue of clubs playing official league matches overseas

LaLiga president Javier Tebas is keen to play an official league game in the United States (Credit: Getty Images)

Fifa’s Stakeholders Committee will formally discuss the issue of clubs playing official league matches overseas at a meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, on Thursday (February 27).

The 23-person committee of world soccer’s governing body is chaired by Concacaf president Victor Montagliani, and includes Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber and United States Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro.

According to ESPN, one of the items on the agenda refers to “Official league matches played in the territory of another member federation: amendments to the Fifa International Match Rules”.

It is possible the amendment could ban domestic league games being played in another country.

The matter of particular interest in North America. Last September, promoter Relevent Sports filed an antitrust lawsuit against US Soccer in the Southern District of New York, alleging that the federation has conspired with Fifa and Soccer United Marketing – the commercial arm of MLS – to block official matches from foreign clubs being held on US soil.

Relevent is looking to stage official LaLiga matches in the US following a long-term partnership with the Spanish soccer league. A planned match between FC Barcelona and Girona at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium in January 2019 was cancelled after widespread opposition from various stakeholders.

In April 2019, US Soccer also denied Relevent’s application to host a match between two Ecuadorian clubs.

In November, meanwhile, a Madrid court opted not to grant permission for a match between Villarreal and Atlético Madrid at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium.

“The decision on whether regular season games are played outside their home countries, it’s not a decision that I have any role in making,” Garber told ESPN. “That’s a decision that Fifa, the confederations and the national associations will make.

“My opinion on it is I don’t think it’s the best thing for the sport. I think regular season games should be played in home markets, and that’s been supported by even in the one issue we have going on now in Spain. The Spanish Federation doesn’t think it makes sense,” Garber said.