Tuesday’s soccer news starts with the latest in Spain’s La Liga attempting to play a game that counts in the United States as soon as this January. La Liga has a deal in place, but received pushback from the Spanish federation, the Spanish players’ union, and now FIFA itself.
ESPN’s Adriana Garcia has a statement from FIFA president Gianni Infantino. He isn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of Girona vs Barcelona in Miami on January 26. “In football, the general principle is that you play a ‘home’ match at ‘home’, and not in a foreign country,” Infantino wrote.
It’s certainly a sticking point, with world soccer designed around nations. There’s not a clear precedent for what La Liga has planned. Dual-nation leagues are one thing. Packing up a game and staging it in a country with its own established domestic league is another. The long list of necessary approvals speaks to that, necessitating multiple sign offs to let Girona stage a home game in Miami.
That obstacles exist isn’t a surprise to La Liga or their American partners. The assumption is that they see a way through or at least the ability to launch a serious discussion into why it would be so difficult to move a game. It’s a good question, one that’s hung over all of European soccer for awhile now in the super league era. If there’s the potential to expand a market, why not take it? That’s how the big American sports leagues operate, with the NFL and now Major League Baseball putting games that count in London.
A European league following a North American league’s lead isn’t surprising in the era of global sports business. We’ve seen it before. Whether or not La Liga succeeds now, we’ll see it again.
Also in the soccer news, former MLS executive Ivan Gazidis is now officially leaving his job as CEO of Arsenal for a similar position with AC Milan. Arsenal announced the move earlier today. Raul Sanllehi as head of football and Vinai Venkatesham as managing director will fill the top roles at Arsenal.
Gazidis called his choice. “the hardest decision of my life – I believe that, after 10 years, it is the right time for me to step aside to allow new leadership, energy and ideas to take the club forward into this exciting new era. I believe in the positive force of change, both for me and for the club. I am excited to see what the future holds for this great club and I am energised by a new personal challenge with AC Milan.”
Moving to MLS, San Jose announced that they have “parted ways” with head coach Mikael Stahre and his assistant Alex de Crook after less than a year on the job. Former USMNT player Steve Ralston takes over as interim coach for the remainder of the season.
“We felt we needed a change and decided that the six remaining games represent an opportunity for all of us to begin heading in a new direction and to evaluate our options actively with a single goal in mind: to strengthen our first team for the upcoming season and beyond,” San Jose GM Jesse Fioranelli said in a statement.
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