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'I would prefer to see a great MLS game in the US rather than La Liga being in the US'

Fifa President Gianni Infantino has expressed reservations about La Liga’s proposal to stage a fixture between Girona and Barcelona in America.

Fifa President Gianni Infantino (file pic).
Fifa President Gianni Infantino (file pic).
Image: Douliery Olivier/ABACA

FIFA PRESIDENT GIANNI Infantino has expressed concern about La Liga’s proposal to stage a fixture between Girona and Barcelona in the United States.

The two clubs have each approved a request submitted to the Spanish Football Federation for the match to be played at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on 26 January. It was originally scheduled as a home game for Girona, at their Estadi Montilivi.

The idea has proven controversial. Girona would be surrendering the advantages of playing at their own home ground, which in theory could benefit Barcelona.

Infantino said on Tuesday: “I think I would prefer to see a great MLS game in the US rather than La Liga being in the US. In football, the general principle is that you play a ‘home’ match at ‘home’, and not in a foreign country.”

La Liga president Javier Tebas responded on Twitter. He wrote: “I will remind the president of Fifa that in the MLS, three teams of Canada participate, and Toronto is the current champion, and also in Canada there is another professional league.”

Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver all compete in the MLS but play home fixtures in their own cities, in Canada.

Infantino also confirmed the plan will need approval from the Spanish and US Football Federations, as well as Uefa and CONCACAF, the governing bodies in charge of European and North American football respectively.

He added: “Fifa should also express a view on the matter, not least since it would have implications for football at a global level as well.”

La Liga is discussing playing one game per season in the US as part of a 15-year agreement with the media company Relevent.

Girona supporters have been offered a “compensation package”, which is believed to include free flights to the US, as well as 5,000 tickets for the reverse fixture at the Camp Nou later this month.

The offer to play the game abroad has been accepted by Girona, who have described it as “a great opportunity to expand and grow, not only for the club but also for our city and our territory”.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said on Friday: “Everything is still far away. It has been discussed with the players and there is an intention (for the match to be moved).”

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Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui believes moving the game would undermine the equality of the league.

“I’m not in favour of it,” Lopetegui said on Friday. “I think we should all play in the same conditions, on the same pitches — that’s what makes the league equal.”

La Liga has said the match is part of a long-term project, “targeted at promoting football in the United States and Canada”.

© – AFP 2018

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