By 90Min
October 03, 2018

La Liga President Javier Tebas insists that the league is still in favour of playing domestic matches in the United States, despite opposition from some of the organisation's clubs.

Barcelona are due to face Catalan rivals Girona in Miami in January, but the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) halted the plans, suggesting that they require more information regarding the fixture, which must also be approved by the United States soccer federation and regional bodies UEFA and CONCACAF.

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Speaking to Reuters, Tebas indicated that expanding the franchise in the USA would help benefit La Liga's ambition of becoming one of the biggest sporting industries in the world.

He is quoted as saying: "Playing in the United States is vital to our strategy there and we won’t relent on what is our right.

"If you want to make your industry more global, as La Liga wants to, if you want to be among the biggest industries in world sport then you have to be immersed in the U.S. market."

The January match between Barcelona and Girona is set to be a landmark first game, included as part of a 15-year deal agreed between La Liga and entertainment company ‘Relevent’ to play one Spanish regular season game annually in America.

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'Relevent’ organises the preseason International Champions Cup tournament, which is held in North America, Asia and Europe. They are tournaments which several La Liga sides have frequently participated in: including Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid.

The entertainment corporation also organised a preseason Clásico between Barcelona and Real Madrid in 2017, which took place in Miami in front of 65,000 fans.

However, Tebas' overseas plans have faced strong opposition from governing bodies and clubs alike.

Among the critics are FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who said: “Home matches should be played at home, not in a foreign country."

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez also made it known last month that his side, who have won three back-to-back Champions League titles, did not wish to be part of the plans to play in the USA.

Yet, Tebas clarified that participating in the overseas matches wouldn't be mandatory but also mentioned how Los Blancos had taken part in several competitions in the U.S. organised by 'Relevent'.

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"It’s voluntary, so if Real Madrid don’t want to go they won’t. But you have to remember that Real Madrid have played in many tournaments in the U.S. organized by ‘Relevent’ so it’s not a coherent argument, but we’re not concerned."

Tebas' decision to expand La Liga overseas is part of a procedure to shorten the revenue gap with the English Premier League.

The Premier League still out-earns the Spanish top flight. In 2016-17 season it boasted a revenue of £4.5 billion ($5.83 billion) compared to the €3.6 billion ($4.15 billion) accumulated by their Spanish counterparts.

In addition to their U.S. strategy, La Liga has also enhanced its market in Asia, opening offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai and New Delhi, as well as agreeing a deal with Facebook, which allows fans in the Indian sub-continent to watch every game for free.

However, Tebas indicated that the league hadn't currently decided on whether they would be playing matches in Asia, citing that the U.S. was at the forefront of their operations.

“In the short term we haven’t got plans to play in Asia, right now the U.S. is where we need to work in order to grow our brand,” he said.

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