LaLiga signs landmark deal to stage matches in US
Russo Soccer, August 16, 2018
LaLiga, which operates the top two divisions of Spanish football, has partnered with sports and entertainment agency Relevent Sports Group on a promotional agreement that will seek to have regular-season matches played in the United States. It is a first-of-its-kind in the football industry. Relevent already operates the annual International Champions Cup, that sees top European clubs come to the United States to play preseason friendlies.
The 15-year joint venture will to promote football in the US and Canada, and will lead to LaLiga staging its first-ever regular season match outside of Europe.
A statement published on the LaLiga website read:
“Called LaLiga North America, the newly founded organisation will work to cultivate soccer culture in the U.S. and Canada using the unequalled assets of LaLiga, the world’s best soccer league featuring internationally recognised clubs and players. Moreover, North America will be exposed to the unparalleled Spanish soccer culture, renowned for its passion, drama, history, flair and creativity.”
La Liga North America
A new organisation known as LaLiga North America will be created. It will use LaLiga assets to further grow the sport in the US and Canada.
LaLiga North America will have exclusive representation rights to LaLiga in the US and Canada for all business and development activities.
The operation will organise consumer-related activities, including youth academies, development of youth coaches, marketing agreements, consumer activations, exhibition matches and regular-season matches.
LaLiga North America will be based in New York and led by chief executive Boris Gartner, a media executive with experience in the US Hispanic and Latin American markets and a former head of strategy and operations at Mexican pay-television operator Televisa.
Gartner will be supported by LaLiga North America’s vice-president of business development, Nicolás García Hemme, who previously worked in international development at LaLiga in Madrid.
The new venture’s board of directors will also include Ross and Tebas, as well as Daniel Sillman, chief executive of Relevent, and Oscar Mayo, LaLiga’s director of international development.
Legal: Advising on the agreement were O’Melveny & Myers LLP in New York led by Irwin Raij and J&A GARRIGUES, S.L.P., in Madrid for LaLiga. Relevent was advised by Stefan dePozsgay of Paul Hastings.
What Those Involved Are Saying
“This extraordinary joint venture is the next giant leap in growing soccer’s popularity in North America. This unique relationship will create new opportunities for millions of North American soccer fans to experience the most passionate, exciting, and highest level of soccer in the world.”Stephen Ross, Chairman and Owner, Relevent
“We’re devoted to growing the passion for soccer around the world. This ground-breaking agreement is certain to give a major impulse to the popularity of the beautiful game in the US and Canada. Relevent has filled stadiums across the US with the International Champions Cup, we’re thrilled to partner with them on a joint mission to grow soccer in North America.”Javier Tebas, President, LaLiga
“Our goal, our job, our responsibility is to try to build La Liga.”Charlie Stillitano, Executive Chairperson, Relevent
“Our goal, our job, our responsibility is to try to build La Liga.” “The agreement marks an inflection point for soccer — the world’s most popular sport in numbers of participants and spectators — in the U.S. and Canada.”LaLiga Press Release
Opposition To LaLiga’s Plans
However, the new agreement met with immediate opposition. A statement on the official Spanish Footballers’ Association website, AFE, read:
“In reference to the agreement made between La Liga and the company Relevent, which includes that an official league match will be played in the United States, the AFE strongly objects. As per usual, La Liga has dispensed with the opinions of the players and has undertaken actions that only benefit them, regardless of the health or risks to the players, and even less the feelings of the following masses of the clubs who are being “forced” to compete in North America once a season.”
Faced with such manifest arbitrariness, David Aganzo, president of the Spanish Footballers’ Association (AFE), has made his complaint public and points out that “footballers are not currency that can be used in business to only benefit third parties.”