Fifa begins process to allow league matches to be played overseas

Fifa has taken a step towards allowing domestic leagues to play competitive matches abroad after announcing a new working group would be formed to “issue recommendations” on the topic. The group was confirmed after a meeting of the Fifa Council in Bangkok on Wednesday and could lead imminently to a seismic change in the traditional structures of the men’s club game. La Liga has already said it hopes to play league matches abroad by 2025.

Fifa said the working group will be made up of 10 to 15 individuals with experience from across the game, including clubs, leagues and supporter associations. The governing body said the group will be independent but that its work must take into account a series of principles, several of which assume a positive decision to stage matches internationally.

skip past newsletter promotion

The first principle, for example, says the group must consider fairness, “including adequacy of advance notice to fans who may miss the opportunity to attend a home or away match in the home territory”. Another principle is “whether adequate provision has been made for fans of the teams playing a proposed out-of-territory match to attend the match in the host country.

The opening up of rules around international matches would be another step in the globalisation of football and, in particular, the European club game. The Premier League was forced to abandon plans for a ‘39th game’ more than a decade ago in the face of strong opposition from Fifa. The League says it has no plans to stage matches abroad, though it launched a friendly tournament, the Premier League series, in the United States last summer.

Other leagues are more interested in tapping into international interest while top clubs are broadly understood to be keen to maximise the revenue that could come from overseas opportunities.

Changes to the rules became possible after Fifa settled a legal dispute with the American promoters Relevent Sports. In April, Fifa said the agreement had been reached “pending  … consideration of changes to existing Fifa policies with respect to playing official season games outside of a league’s home territory”.

The Guardian

Leave a Reply