Regular season foreign league matches in the US back on the agenda after FIFA settles antitrust suit

April 9 – FIFA and Relevent Sports have settled their antitrust lawsuit as the global governing body will reportedly reconsider its policy blocking league matches in overseas countries.

The settlement, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, states: “Relevent and FIFA stipulate and agree to the dismissal without prejudice of all claims asserted by Relevent against FIFA in the above-captioned action, with each side bearing its own attorneys’ fees and costs.”

For FIFA the settlement may be a legal defeat and it could well pave the way for foreign league matches to be staged in the US, a co-host of the 2026 World Cup. Relevent had previously boasted that La Liga matches would be played on American soil before the tournament.

“FIFA and Relevent Sports have agreed to resolve this matter specific to FIFA while FIFA considers changes to its existing rules about whether games can be played outside of a league’s home territory,” said Relevent CEO Danny Sillman. “Relevent Sports looks forward to supporting FIFA as both sides work to grow the game.”

“Bringing official matches from Europe to the US is an exciting proposition but it must be done thoughtfully and collaboratively. We look forward to partnering with FIFA to support the global growth of the game and the best leagues in the world.”

The lawsuit came about when Relevent tried to stage a league match between Spanish giants Real Madrid and Girano in 2019, but the Spanish FA, RFEF, refused to sanction the match. Relevant also sought to organise an Ecuadoran league match between Barcelona and Guayaquil City in the US, but didn’t get approval either.

In 2018, the FIFA Council had adopted a ruling that “emphasised the sporting principle that official league matches must be played within the territory of the respective member association.”

“FIFA and Relevent have agreed to resolve this matter,” said FIFA in a statement. “As it concerns FIFA, pending FIFA’s consideration of changes to existing FIFA policies with respect to playing official season games outside of a league’s home territory. FIFA has not admitted any liability and continues to deny the legal claims alleged in Relevent’s complaint.”

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