FC Barcelona will play the first ever La Liga game on foreign soil on January 26th at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami at 2:45 p.m., local time, according to a leaked document obtained by COPE. Barça will play against Girona, who will sacrifice a home match.
“It’s very important for LaLiga to build bridges and grow, transmitting the values of football and Spain all over the world,” the document reads. “Outside of Spain, the United States is one of the countries with the most fans of LaLiga and its clubs, where we count with millions of fans.”
It goes on to say: “Seeking to bring Spanish football and La Liga closer to these fans represents an enormous opportunity to connect with said fans and continue working for the global following of our league at international level.”
The proposal has generated controversy among the players, coaches, and local fans. It was reported that Girona season-ticket holders would be refunded for their flights to and from Miami, to make up for the fact that they won’t get a match at their stadium.
The effects of a transatlantic voyage, followed by a top-level match, and then another transatlantic voyage, could also be a source of troublele for the players. Also, La Liga is yet to ratify the plan with FIFA in an official capacity. The organization has previously shut down attempts to play matches in other countries.
There’s also the pesky matter of La Liga not being shown in many TV sets around the United States.
On the other hand, La Liga says this is a “perfect” opportunity to grow the popularity of the league abroad. It certainly would be groundbreaking, as none of the top five European leagues have played a competitive league match outside of the country. Spain already tested the waters this season, holding the Spanish Supercup (which Barcelona also played) in Morocco.
Some fans have railed against the move on social media, but some Girona fans have said that with the included flight to Miami, they are getting a good deal.
Meanwhile, La Liga will reportedly ban political demonstrations at the match and pass out free Spanish flags. This is because both teams are from Catalonia, and it would be a logical time for those fans in favor of an independent Catalonia to make a political stand during the match.