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FIFA Committee Recommends Ban On Leagues’ Playing Games In Other Countries

Committee discussed whether to place a ban on domestic league games being played in other countries as its meeting in Zurich.

MIAMI, Fla.  (3 March 2020) FIFA’s stakeholders committee had a meeting on 27th February. The agenda, as revealed by ESPN, included a discussion of the ability of leagues to play domestic games in other countries.

Specifically, the agenda included an item referenced as ‘Official league matches played in the territory of another member federation: amendments to the FIFA International Match Rules’ and another that mentions ‘Clubs participating in competitions of the territory of another member federation: applications covered by art. 73 of the FIFA Statutes.’ Article 73 refers to playing matches outside of an association, league or club’s own territory only in ‘exceptional circumstances’ under authorisation from ‘member associations, the respective confederation[s] and by FIFA’.

The stakeholders committee has the power to make recommendations to the 37-member FIFA Council, which has the authority to make a final decision on the matter.

In the past two years, LaLiga, the top-tier of Spanish soccer, has twice tried to host matches in the United States as part of its fiftenn-year joint venture agreement with Relevant Sports. Both attempts proved unsuccessful.

With overseas interest coming into Major League Soccer’s (MLS) home market, Commissioner Don Garber has said he is opposed to the idea of leagues taking games overseas. Garber and US Soccer Federation (USSF) President Carlos Cordeiro both sit on the FIFA stakeholders committee and were in Switzerland for the meeting.

Speaking at a recent MLS media day, Garber said: “Personally, as we continue to develop professional soccer, both in the United States and in other leagues, I believe home games should be played at home stadiums. That has been my view from the beginning.

“It shouldn’t be about one or two leagues trying to do something just because one or two clubs are pushing for it, when it is probably not even in the interests of that league.”

MLS does not have the ability to prevent other leagues to play regular season matches in the United States, which his a decision for the regional federation, Concacaf, and the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). However, given the very close relationship between US Soccer and MLS, it’s almost certain that US Soccer would oppose any league playing a regular season game in the US, absent some form of compensation.

The Zurich meeting came as FIFA President Gianni Infantino published a document outlining his objectives for the soccer body under his tenure through 2023.

The initiatives include reviewing the international match calendar; ‘optimising’ the laws of the game to promote offensive tactics; improving e-commerce platforms; reducing the global disparity between the levels of play; creating more opportunities for men’s and women’s teams to play internationally; creating a distinct brand identity for women’s football, underpinned by ‘an innovative digital strategy’; enhancing and expanding the availability of VAR; as well as exploring new mobile platforms and content featuring real-time analysis, to increase entertainment value.

By Ken Russo

My work in the business of soccer applies skills acquired in law practice with a focus on the sport's commercial, communications and sporting components. Russo Soccer aims to inform, educate and engage in dialogue on news and relevant issues in the game.

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 affaires de football.

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