Villarreal – Atlético In Miami ? The Latest

The round 16 game would be the first regular season match of LaLiga Santander to be presented outside of Spain.

MIAMI, Fla. (October 17, 2019) —

LaLiga is continuing its attempts to stage an official league game in the United States by proposing that the Villarreal-Atletico Madrid match scheduled for the weekend of December 7-8 be played at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

Having previously attempted to arrange a game in Miami last season between Barcelona and Girona, LaLiga seem determined to make the event happen.

Spanish newspaper El Confidencial first reported that an agreement is already in place between LaLiga and both clubs to play the match in Miami, which would be a designated home game for Villarreal:

Tal y como hiciera la temporada pasada, aunque finalmente sin éxito, LaLiga estudia llevarse un partido de Primera División fuera de España, y más concretamente a Estados Unidos. Tras el fiasco del Girona-Barça del curso anterior que tanta polémica suscitó, el presidente de la patronal, Javier Tebas, no ceja en su empeño de expandir “la industria del fútbol español” a otros continentes, especialmente el norteamericano.

Support From Both Clubs

Today, LaLiga Santander confirmed that both Atlético de Madrid and Villarreal have agreed to play their December 6 meeting in the United States. The game is set for Friday, December 6 at 22:00 CET (16:00 EST), but there is also talk of playing the match on Sunday, December 8, 2019, which from the standpoint of ticket sales in Miami makes more sense. They now hope that the Spanish FA, among other governing bodies, consents.

“Atletico Madrid work every season to promote our brand across all continents.”

Miguel Angel Gil, CEO, Atlético de Madrid
Miguel Angel Gil, CEO, Club Atlético de Madrid Photo: RTVE

“A match in the US would allow us to continue working on it,” Gil added. “Additionally, we’d bring Spanish football to fans outside our country. It’d be a great game that would mark the future.”

Villarreal president Fernando Roig joined with the sentiments. “Everything about exporting football and Spanish sport is good for everyone,” he said. “And, of course, for Villarreal. The US is a very important country where we have official club academies. It would be very special for us to play there.”

“It would be positive for everyone.” Fernando Roig, President, Villareal C.F.

The Villareal President went on to say: “I hope this time it comes to fruition. We’re starting to see if Villarreal-Atleti can be played in Miami,” Villarreal president Fernando Roig told El Transistor. “Both us and Atleti have agreed to play in Miami, but I would like this to be a consensual agreement from everyone. I would like there to be a consensual agreement because I think that taking LaLiga abroad would be good for everyone.”

The club also said it would work out a plan to reimburse ticket holders who would not be able to see the game played at the Estadio de la Cerámica, although the precise nature of the reimbursement has not yet been revealed.

Sanctioning Process

The next step in the process to bring the Round 16 match to Hard Rock Stadium is for LaLiga to make a formal application to the Real Federación Espanola de Fútbol (RFEF) which is the licensing body of spanish football. LaLiga intends to file this application today, October 17. The league has also informed the players on both sides prior to announcing the plan. In addition to the RFEF, LaLiga will once again seek the approval of UEFA, and the United States Soccer Federation.

Prior Plan Scrapped

In August 2018, LaLiga announced that it would play at least one match per season overseas as part of a new 15-year partnership with Relevent Sports Group to promote the league in North America. But a proposed game between FC Barcelona and Girona at Hard Rock Stadium for January 2019 was shelved after Barcelona’s board of directors backed out of the match, citing “a lack of consensus” among stakeholders.

While the Barça board cited a lack of consensus, the real reason was that the RFEF, along with UEFA, FIFA and the United States Soccer Federation, had not approved the game.

The fallout from the failure of these bodies to approve last season’s match continues. In September, LaLiga’s North American partner Relevent Sports Group filed an antitrust lawsuit against the USSF (ÜS Soccer”) in the United States District Court For The Southern District of New York, alleging that Us Soccer conspired with global governing body FIFA and Soccer United Marketing, the commercial arm of Major League Soccer, to block official matches from foreign clubs being held in the U.S. There is also a similar lawsuit between LaLiga and the RFEF over the right to stage games overseas.

Economic Benefit To Both Clubs

Both Atlético de Madrid and Villareal CF are looking to increase their presence in the North American market, Atletico Madrid toured the U.S. this summer, including participating in the MLS All-Star Game. Having a regular season match in Miami would be a boost to the marketing of both clubs.

Miami is the leading choice for holding LaLiga games in the United States, given the league is in a fifteen-year agreement with Relevant Sports, which is tied in to the ownership group of Hard Rock Stadium and the Miami Dolphins NFL franchise. Hard Rock Stadium, originally opened in 1987 and known as Joe Robbie Stadium, has undergone extensive upgrades in recent years, and is perfectly suited to host soccer matches. It even has the look of a modern European football arena. On top of that, Miami traditionally has among the highest support for soccer of any city in North America, given its large percentage of the population with ties to Latin America, and, to a lesser extent, Europe.

Photo: Hard Rock Stadium

Recapítulo En Castellano:

  • El organismo presidido por Javier Tebas cuenta con la aprobación de ambos clubes, que ven la propuesta como una oportunidad histórica. El encuentro se disputaría el domingo 8 de diciembre.
  • Por segundo año consecutivo, LaLiga estudia seriamente la posibilidad de llevarse un partido de la Primera División española a tierras estadounidenses.
  • Javier Tebas no ceja en su empeño de expandir más el mercado del fútbol nacional a otros continentes, especialmente el americano.
  • Ambos clubes implicados están de acuerdo con la iniciativa, asi lo aseguró Fernando Roig, presidente de Villarreal, más tarde en declaraciones al programa ‘El Transistor’ de Onda Cero: “Es bueno para que exportemos LaLiga a un país tan importante. No hay problemas por parte del Atleti. Esperamos que todo siga su curso”.
  • LaLiga presente que el enfrentamiento entre castellonenses y madrileños se juegue en Miami (Florida) en el Hard Rock Stadium, junto a la misma empresa promotora, Relevent.
  • Este pasado martes José Manuel Llaneza, vicepresidente del club amarillo, se reunió en Madrid con miembros de LaLiga para comprobar algunos detalles y dar su visto bueno a la operación.
  • El Villarreal compensará a sus aficionados, los grandes damnificados por esta medida, de alguna manera que todavía no se ha concretado. No se descarta que el club sufrage vuelos chárter para sus socios con la esperanza de que ningún abonado se quede sin disfrutar de un hecho que la junta directiva considera histórico. “Es posible. Estamos estudiando y viendo alternativas diferentes. No habrá problemas”, indicó Roig.
  • En su momento, la Federación (RFEF) se opuso por completo a que los partidos del campenato doméstico se celebraran fuera del país, pero se desconoce qué postura defenderá ahora una vez que ha maniobrado para organizar la próxima edición de la Supercopa de España en Arabia Saudí (del 8 al 12 de enero). Fue en septiembre de 2018 cuando la RFEF presidida por Luis Rubiales rechazó por completo la idea de un partido en Florida, que tampoco convenció a la FIFA ni a la AFE.

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Ken Russo

My work combines skills acquired through years of law practice with the business, communications and team operations side of the soccer. I am a graduate of McGill University in Montreal, the University of Miami School of Law and the holder of a certificate in sports business from Columbia University. Um advogado por formação, concentro meu trabalho nos negócios, comunicações e operações de equipes no futebol mundial. | Abogado con fundación avanzada en comunicaciones, enfocado en los negocios del fútbol y las comunicaciones. | Je suis un avocat experimenté dans les communications et les affaires du sector de football.

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