RFEF chief opposes LaLiga’s Miami match proposal

Atletico Madrid takes on Villarreal in LaLiga last season (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales has spoken out against plans to stage a LaLiga match between Villarreal and Atlético Madrid in Miami, US.

LaLiga, with the backing of the two clubs, submitted a formal request to the RFEF for the game to take place at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium on December 6.

However, Rubiales told reporters yesterday (Thursday): “It would disrupt the competition. To play a game in Miami, LaLiga needs permission from five bodies that it does not have.”

Aside from the RFEF, relocating the match to Miami 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.

In its application, LaLiga asked for the game to be played at 4pm local time (10pm in Spain), with president Javier Tebas saying: “This match will be another boost to the internationalisation strategy of LaLiga.”

The league added that the United States, and Miami in particular, are an “essential part of LaLiga’s continued growth strategy” and explained that Villarreal has been working for several years in the market through the presence of academies, training and marketing activities, while Atlético took part in a tour of the US this summer.

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In August 2018, LaLiga announced 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.

However, a proposed game between Barcelona and Girona at Hard Rock Stadium in January 2019 was scrapped after Barcelona’s board of directors backed out of the fixture, citing “a lack of consensus” among stakeholders. The RFEF and the Spanish footballers’ union, the Asociación de Futbolistas Españoles, were also against the idea.

In other news, the RFEF has assumed control of organisational responsibilities for the top two futsal divisions in Spain, dislodging the Liga Nacional de Fútbol Sala (LNFS) in the process.

In initiating what will be seen by many observes as it latest power grab, the RFEF said that it had been recognised in court that there was no legal agreement for the LNFS to organise the competitions. The federation said that a sub-committee comprising the participating clubs had been established to help supervise and develop the competitions.