International Sports

Barcelona soccer giants pull out of league game in Miami

Key Points
  • Barcelona FC was scheduled to play fellow La Liga side Girona FC at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium in January.
  • The Spanish league had signed a 15-year agreement with entertainment company Relevent Sports, which is also owned by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.
  • Barcelona has said it is still willing to play a competitive game in America.
Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona on May 20, 2018, in Barcelona, Spain.
Power Sport Images | Getty Images

Plans by Spain's top soccer division to hold a competitive match in the United States next month have been derailed, after Barcelona FC withdrew its support for the game on Monday following a board meeting.

Barcelona was to play fellow Catalan club Girona FC at Miami's Hard Rock stadium for the landmark fixture, with suggestions that free flights and accommodation would be on offer for Spanish fans willing to make the trip.

The Spanish league, known as La Liga, has signed a 15-year agreement with entertainment company Relevent Sports, which is also owned by NFL team the Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

The deal included hosting one regular season Spanish league game on American soil per year, with La Liga keen to get the first game arranged this season. Girona's "home match" against Barcelona had been earmarked to be played at the home of the NFL's Miami Dolphins on January 26th 2019.

Girona's defender Juanpe Ramirez (L) vies with Barcelona's forward from Argentina Lionel Messi during the Spanish league football match Girona FC vs FC Barcelona at the Montilivi stadium in Girona on September 23, 2017. 
JOSEP LAGO | AFP | Getty Images

The proposal received opposition from the Spanish Football Association and soccer's world and European governing bodies, FIFA and UEFA. This latest announcement makes it now appear that support from the board of Barcelona's is also wavering whilst the various parties involved cannot reach agreement.

"The FC Barcelona Board of Directors have agreed to withdraw their willingness to play against Girona in Miami after seeing the lack of consensus surrounding the proposal," read a club statement on Monday evening.

Earlier reports in Spain suggested Girona stood to make 4 million euros ($4.6 million) from the game by sacrificing one of its home fixtures.

"Barcelona were and are willing to go to Miami in order to play a La Liga game, and accepted that the profits would be shared among all clubs in the first and second divisions, in alignment with the TV rights deal, but considers that while all the parties involved cannot reach an agreement, this project cannot thrive," it added.

By taking Spanish soccer across the Atlantic, La Liga had planned to promote the sport throughout North America when the original plans were announced back in August. However, the proposal received immediate critical reaction from the Spanish Footballers Union over the plans, whose members even threatened strike action.

A source close to the negotiations downplayed the setback, telling Reuters News Agency that holding the match next month was probably too aggressive a timeline and adding that it was likely to be played sometime next year.

A spokesperson for La Liga was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.