Spanish soccer league aims to break into the US market with landmark fixture

  • As part of the agreement, La Liga plans to bring a regular season club match to the United States, the first to be played outside of Europe.
  • The announcement comes off the back of a successful 2018 World Cup in Russia, despite the United States not taking part for the first time in 28 years.
  • Looking ahead, La Liga will also look to capitalize on the recent awarding of the 2026 World Cup to Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

Spain's top-flight soccer competition La Liga, alongside sports media and entertainment group Relevent, announced a landmark 15-year deal to promote soccer in the U.S. and Canada.

As part of the agreement, La Liga plans to bring a regular season club match to the United States, the first to be played outside of Europe.

However, following the news, La Liga sources told CNBC "At this point we cannot confirm the teams, match, date or season." The response went on to add, "La Liga is working together with our new partner Relevent Sports to organize the first fixture to be scheduled in the USA."

Relevent, which is part of Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross's RSE Ventures, is responsible for the annual International Champions Cup soccer tournament. European sides such as AC Milan, AS Roma, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United all recently competed in stadiums across North America as part of pre-season tours.

"This extraordinary joint venture is the next giant leap in growing soccer's popularity in North America," said Stephen Ross, chairman and owner of Relevent. "This unique relationship will create new opportunities for millions of North American soccer fans to experience the most passionate, exciting, and highest level of soccer in the world."

The Spanish league will be without Cristiano Ronaldo from this season following his transfer from Real Madrid to Italian champions Juventus for 100 million euros, but fellow five-time world player of the year Lionel Messi still remains at Barcelona.

The announcement comes off the back of a successful 2018 World Cup in Russia, despite the United States not taking part for the first time in 28 years. Looking ahead, La Liga will also look to capitalize on the recent awarding of the 2026 World Cup to Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

La Liga President Javier Tebas added "We're devoted to growing the passion for soccer around the world. This ground-breaking agreement is certain to give a major impulse to the popularity of the beautiful game in the U.S. and Canada. Relevent has filled stadiums across the U.S. with the International Champions Cup; we're thrilled to partner with them on a joint mission to grow soccer in North America."

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Manuel Queimadelos Alonso | Getty Images

The Spanish footballer's union, the AFE, however, criticized the league for not consulting the players, declaring its "most energetic protest" at the announcement. "As usual, La Liga has ignored the opinion of players and compromises them with actions which only the league benefits from," said a statement from the organization.

David Aganzo, head of the AFE, added: "Footballers are not currency that can be used in business deals that only benefit third parties."

When more details do emerge, La Liga feels there will be a receptive market, highlighting the 47 million fan base in the United States for global soccer. Last season, La Liga's televised product reached a global audience of more than 2.7 billion spectators.