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FIFA considers allowing domestic matches to be played overseas

FIFA has formed a working group to explore allowing domestic leagues to play competitive matches abroad, per the Guardian.

Experts from across football clubs, leagues and fan groups will consider several key issues regarding staging matches abroad. Fairness to fans is one of the primary issues which will be considered.

If ratified, Premier League matches could be played in the United States or a La Liga clash in Asia. La Liga is itching to play league games abroad as early as 2025. 

The Spanish federation (RFEF) agreed a three-year deal worth a reported €120 million with the Saudi Arabian sports authority in 2019 to play the Spanish Super Cup in the Middle East.

FIFA’s move to decentralise league matches comes after they settled a legal dispute with an American promoter, Relevent, last month

Relevent planned to host a La Liga match between Barcelona and Girona in Miami in 2018, but FIFA’s ruling council stopped the move. Relevent responded by taking FIFA to court.

This settlement opened the door for reviewing current rules on playing league games outside a team’s home country.

The Premier League famously scrapped a 39th game proposal years ago due to FIFA’s opposition and has no current plans for overseas matches. 

However, they did host a friendly tournament in the US last year.

Other leagues seem more enthusiastic. They see this as a chance to tap into new markets and boost revenue. 

Top clubs are also believed to be interested in the potential financial benefits of playing abroad.

The working group will make recommendations, and FIFA will have the final say on this matter, but it looks like the door is very much open for league matches to be staged overseas.

This push for overseas matches raises serious concerns about greed overshadowing the core principles of sport.

Players already face a gruelling schedule, with competitions stacked on top of each other. 

Adding transcontinental flights and disrupting sleep patterns for these matches exacerbates the problem.  Exhausted players are more prone to injuries, and the quality of the game can suffer.

The biggest losers will be the fans. The heart of football lies in the passionate supporters who roar from the stands, week in and week out.  

These overseas matches would erode this connection, making it financially difficult for many fans to attend their team’s games.

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