The idea of a Spanish game being played in North America has proved controversial, but the date for the first clash appears to have been decided
Barcelona, Girona and La Liga (LFP) have put forward a request to the Spanish FA (RFEF) that they be allowed to play a fixture in Miami, Florida later this season.
In a statement issued by the LFP, Girona’s ‘home’ match against the Catalans could be switched to the Hard Rock Stadium on January 26.
Girona will reportedly receive €4.5m for the match while 1,500 fans will be given free air travel and accommodation by the league. Alternatively, season-ticket holders who do not want to make the trip will be offered one of 5,000 tickets to attend the reverse fixture at the Nou Camp in September.
The news comes after last month’s announcement that La Liga had made a deal with multinational media, sports and entertainment company Relevent that will last 15 years and boost the competition in North America by seeing a Spanish top-flight match played in the United States for the first time.
And Girona revealed this week that they would accept the proposal to play against the Catalan giants in another country as it presents “a great opportunity for expansion and growth”.
President Delfi Geli has joined his Barcelona and Liga counterparts, Josep Maria Bartomeu and Javier Tebas, in signing a letter asking the RFEF to grant permission.
One of the main issues concerning the proposal surrounds compensation for local fans and season ticket holders who will miss out on the game. However, Aficiones Unidas (AFEPE), which works with clubs and the association to promote fairness in football, has approved Barca and Girona’s plans to make amends with supporters.
Although the plan looks set to go ahead, the idea has been met with much criticism since its announcement, including from RFEF president Luis Rubiales and Spanish players’ union (AFE) leader David Aganzo, who said the reaction to the idea was of unanimous outrage and that clubs were considering going on strike.
For American soccer fans, fed up with paying high ticket prices for meaningless pre-season friendlies, the match between Barcelona and Girona in Miami, provides a rare opportunity to watch some of the world’s best players play a competitive match on US soil.