It was announced today that La Liga would be playing a regular season match in the United States or Canada in the near future. The announcement comes off the back of an agreement with Relevent sports company. A 15-year deal was inked with the group with the hopes of growing the league abroad.
“We’re devoted to growing the passion for soccer around the world,” La Liga president Javier Tebas said. “This ground-breaking agreement is certain to give a major impulse to the popularity of the beautiful game in the U.S. and Canada. Relevent has filled stadiums across the U.S. with the International Champions Cup, [and] we’re thrilled to partner with them on a joint mission to grow soccer in North America.”
While a date and location haven’t been determined, it still remains to be seen if this is even a good idea in a vacuum. There’s two main perspectives on the matter. The first is that of the La Liga fan living in Spain, enjoying and savoring the league on a weekly basis. Personally, I can’t speak for that fan since I live in the United States and don’t have the same relation to the league. The second is that of the United States or Canadian citizen that gets to potentially see a La Liga game in person.
From experience, these experiments usually don’t work well. The NFL has been sending games to London for years now, and it’s always a joke. They always send the worst games and the teams rarely get up for the games. From a fan’s perspective I’m never too disappointed when my NFL team, the Detroit Lions, are playing a game abroad. They’re going to lose regardless.
So I already know that in all likelihood La Liga aren’t going to start off sending Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, or Real Madrid over here for a league match. But I also know there probably isn’t a huge audience for a Real Betis against Levante match in the United States.
To answer the question posed at the beginning of the piece, I think it’s still too early to make a definitive statement, but I believe on its face it could be a good idea if well executed. Again, I’m saying this from the perspective of an American soccer fan that would love to see my country look like Spain someday in terms of its passion for football.
Perhaps getting a taste of La Liga would do soccer fandom in the United States some good. Or perhaps I’m being too optimistic.