Madrid court dismisses LaLiga’s Miami match appeal

(Photo by Carlos Sanchez Martinez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

A Madrid court has dismissed an appeal from LaLiga, the governing body of the top two divisions of Spanish football, against the Spanish Football Federation’s (RFEF) decision not to authorise a match between Girona and Barcelona in the US city of Miami.

The Magistrate of Madrid’s Commercial Court No.12 ruled that the RFEF did not engage in unlawful conduct by not facilitating the match, which LaLiga had proposed staging at the Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium in January 2019.

LaLiga has said it respects the decision of the court but does not share its views, and will therefore appeal the decision.

While acknowledging that its matches must be held in coordination with the RFEF, LaLiga insists that this cannot be achieved based on “arbitrary decisions” and “against a competitive market”.

LaLiga said in a statement: “We will continue to defend our rights and that of the clubs. Playing one LaLiga match abroad, as other sports leagues such as the NBA or NFL do, for example, is very positive for the growth of the competition, for our global fans and even for the RFEF itself.

“We will continue to work on the international expansion of LaLiga, which already has 11 offices and 46 delegates around the world, plus 100 million global followers on social networks in which we speak 18 languages, and more than 80 agreements with international television operators.”

“LaLiga is honorary ambassador of the brand of Spain for the work it carries out in international relations, and the professional football industry generates 1.37 per cent of Spanish GDP, creates 185,000 jobs and contributes €4.1bn ($4.6bn) in taxes. By staging a LaLiga match outside our borders we can continue to grow and generate wealth for Spanish society as a whole.

“We know that it is not an easy path, but we believe that we must remain loyal to our objectives, not only to grow but also to defend ourselves in the face of increasingly strong global competitions.”

LaLiga is keen to further establish its presence in the US after announcing in August 2018 that it would play at least one match per season overseas as part of a 15-year partnership with Relevent Sports.

In November, the aforementioned Madrid court opted not to grant LaLiga permission to stage a match between Villarreal and Atlético Madrid in Miami on December 6. LaLiga’s Miami plans have long drawn opposition from the RFEF.