Plans for Spain's top soccer league to play a fixture in the United States have moved a step closer, after it asked for permission from the Spanish Football Federation to take Girona's game against Barcelona abroad.
"Barcelona, Girona and La Liga have requested the authorisation of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to play Girona v Barcelona on 26 January at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami at 20.45 CET," said a statement from the league on Tuesday.
Originally scheduled as a home match for Girona, the league's organising body said on Tuesday it had also reached an agreement with prominent Spanish fans group Aficiones Unidas (Fans United). It will offer free return flights to compensate Girona season ticket holders who will be deprived of a home game against Barcelona as a result of the venue change.
Catalan based side Girona is partly owned by the parent group of Premier League champions Manchester City, who La Liga Chief Javier Tabas revealed had encouraged the club to get involved in the first U.S. match.
However, there are still obstacles to overcome before the game gets the official go ahead. The Spanish Footballer's Union (AFE) has already been strong opponents to the joint agreement made between La Liga and American sports and entertainment group Relevent. It announced plans last month, to play one Spanish game per season in North America over the next 15 years.
Relevent is a company under the ownership of Stephen Ross, who also owns Miami Dolphins NFL team.
The AFE reiterated in a statement on Monday of its anger at not being informed of the plans La Liga has committed to. It went on to provide a full report on the impact it believed playing games in the U.S. will have on players.
Following a consultation with captains and senior members representing all 20 La Liga sides, the statement added that it will be the players who will make a final decision on whether or not they go to play the proposed Girona versus Barcelona game.
Tebas stated the league will earn €200 million ($232.80 million) for playing games in North America. He promised that teams will be under no obligation to take their matches across the Atlantic, with only clubs that volunteer making the trip and saying "this is much more than a game, it's about strategy and sponsorship."
As well as requiring the permission of the Spanish Football Federation, the game needs to be approved by European football's governing body UEFA, as well as the United States' soccer federation and the regional body CONCACAF.