September 21, 2018 / 1:04 PM / in 3 months

Soccer: Spanish federation delays approval of Girona-Barca in Miami

BARCELONA (Reuters) - La Liga’s plans to move Girona’s fixture with Barcelona on Jan. 26 to Miami hang in the balance after the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) declined to authorise the move until it received more information on the game.

“We have received a letter from the RFEF requesting more information about our proposal to play a La Liga competition match in the USA, we will provide that information,” La Liga’s head of communications Joris Evers told Reuters on Friday.

According to world governing body FIFA’s statutes, any domestic competition played outside the league’s usual home must be approved by the home federation, the European governing body UEFA, the federation where the game is taking place, and the regional confederation - in this case the United States Soccer Federation and CONCACAF.

“They are not saying no, they are asking for more documentation. Evidently, they are not very keen on it, but I’m still optimistic,” La Liga president Javier Tebas told reporters gathered outside the organisation’s headquarters on Friday.

In August the Spanish federation took the Spanish Super Cup outside of Spain for the first time, as Barcelona met Sevilla in Tangier, Morocco.

“The federation may not like the idea of us playing this game but the president of the RFEF has to resolve this legally, with the precedent of having taken a game to Tangier after everything that has been said about adulterating the competition,” Tebas added.

“The game (in Miami) is still alive, without a doubt. We believe we are in the right and we will respond to all the doubts expressed in the letter.

“This isn’t about us wanting to play a game in Miami, it’s a strategic plan to promote our brand amid the relentless competition for broadcasting rights.”

Girona and Barcelona declined requests from Reuters to comment.

In August, La Liga announced a landmark 15-year promotion deal with US entertainment company Relevent, the organiser of the annual International Champions Cup tournament played across the United States, Asia and Europe, which included plans to play one game a year stateside.

The plans were initially rejected by the Spanish Footballer’s Union, the AFE, who said they were prepared to go on strike in order to prevent the match from going ahead.

Earlier this month, Barca spokesman Josep Vives said the club supported the idea of playing abroad but would only do so if all parties in Spanish football agreed.

“We’re interested in playing in the United States because it’s a strategic market, but we want it to be done consensually, in agreement and in harmony with the players and the Spanish soccer federation,” he said.

Last week Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui said he was opposed to the idea, telling a news conference: “I don’t agree with this game, all the teams should play in the same stadiums.”

Reporting by Rodrigo De Miguel in Madrid; Writing by Richard Martin in Barcelona; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Toby Davis

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