Drawing boundary lines: FIFA meet on issues of domestic leagues playing overseas

February 27 – A top-level FIFA committee is discussing whether to prevent domestic league games being played in another country.

FIFA’s Stakeholders Committee, whose chairman is Concacaf president Victor Montagliani, is debating the issue at a meeting in Zurich today according to reports.

The agenda includes ‘Official league matches played in the territory of another member federation: amendments to the Fifa International Match Rules’.

What the amendment would mean is of particular interest to Spanish clubs and Spanish league president Javier Tebas – and to the United States. La Liga has twice in the last two seasons been denied the chance to host official matches in the USA.

In  December, 2018, the idea of Barcelona meeting Girona in Miami the following month was abandoned after Barca pulled due to a “lack of consensus”.  The Spanish league had signed a 15-year, €200 million agreement with Relevent the previous August to play one regular season Spanish league game per season in the US starting with the Girona-Barca fixture.

Six months ago, Relevent filed an antitrust lawsuit against US Soccer alleging that the federation conspired with FIFA and Soccer United Marketing – the commercial arm of MLS – to block official matches from foreign clubs being held on US soil.

And in November, a Madrid court ruled against Villarreal and Atlético Madrid playing at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium saying the Spanish FA could not be forced to give consent to the game, as required by FIFA.

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, a member of the stakeholders committee,. told ESPN: “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.”

The committee cannot take any binding decisions and can only pass on its findings to the full 37-member FIFA Council.

La Liga has long argued the Spanish FA has already hosted games abroad, including the four-team Super Cup which was controversially held in Saudi Arabia last month.

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