Barcelona withdraw from controversial Miami match

Barcelona officially backed out of La Liga’s controversial plan to stage a match in Miami but won’t rule out playing in a similar fixture in the future.

The league champions’ trip to Girona on Jan. 26, 2019 was selected for a Florida billing as part of a 15-year partnership between La Liga and media company Relevent. The idea received widespread criticism and objections from the Spanish football association (RFEF), the Spanish players’ union, and even Real Madrid, who said the match would harm La Liga’s “integrity and equality.”

Now, Barcelona have elected to not compete in the unpopular overseas fixture “until an agreement is reached between all the agents involved,” Monday’s club statement said.

La Liga revealed in November that it was taking the RFEF to court to try to force the match to go ahead, although the division’s bigwigs would require further approval from FIFA, U.S. Soccer, and CONCACAF (which oversees football in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean) to get the notion rubber-stamped.

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“FC Barcelona were and remain willing to play a La Liga game in Miami, and accepted that income from the game would be shared amongst all Primera Division and Segunda Division clubs, following the same criteria of television rights money distribution,” the club’s statement explained.

“But (the board members) consider that this project will not prosper until there is an agreement between all parties.”

The Spanish top flight was encouraged in its bid to showcase La Liga in Miami when the rescheduled second leg of the Copa Libertadores final was moved from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Madrid. South American football’s governing body, CONMEBOL, shifted the huge clash between River Plate and Boca Juniors after crowd trouble caused the original decider to be postponed twice. The meeting was eventually contested at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday, with River Plate prevailing by a 3-1 scoreline (5-3 on aggregate).

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