Josep Maria Bartomeu Says La Liga Should Play 3 Games Overseas Every Season

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2019

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 22: FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu during Kevin-Prince Boateng's unveiling at Nou Camp on January 22, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has said he thinks La Liga should be looking to play three matches overseas every season.

There were plans to take Barcelona's showdown with Girona in January to the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, although eventually the controversial move was scrapped after resistance from the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and the players.

However, Bartomeu told BBC Sport on Tuesday that if La Liga is to grow as a global brand, then taking the product abroad is a crucial step:

"If we want La Liga to be strong, we are to play in these games. At Barca we have sometimes been talking to La Liga and have been telling them that if you want to promote La Liga more and more, then we should have three games of the year outside—one in America, one in the Middle East and one in Asia.

"We have to go and be closer to the fans. We do the summer tours in July and August to go closer to the fans. It's us showing respect to them, going to Miami would have been respect to our fans in the USA."

As noted in the report, La Liga has signed an agreement to play one game per season in the United States with events company Relevent.

Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague told BBC Sport that any move to take matches outside of Spain will be "firmly challenged" by the RFEF.

Ben Hayward of the Evening Standard noted that had the match between Barcelona and Girona been played in the United States then it would have presented a challenging schedule for both sides given their Copa del Rey progress:

Ben Hayward @bghayward

En route to Girona for a fixture La Liga had planned to schedule in Miami. With both Barça and Girona playing Copa del Rey quarter-final first and second leg games just days before and after this match, it would have been a disaster... https://t.co/OCGMyiE8EU

As relayed by The Spanish Football Podcast, at the match at Montilivi between the Catalan rivals, someone was unable to resist making a joke:

The Spanish Football Podcast @tsf_podcast

Welcome to Miami... @sidlowe is at Montilivi for #GironaBarça. #tsfpAtTheGames https://t.co/gTLBROQKWI

Per BBC Sport, when Barcelona confirmed the plans to take the match to Miami had been cancelled in December, they said the "project will not prosper until there is agreement between all parties." 

It may be a while yet before Bartomeu gets his wish and numerous matches are taken out of Spain. As the presdient of one of the biggest sporting outfits on the planet, though, it's not a shock he is so keen on expanding his team's reach.