FIFA to discuss rules on leagues taking games overseas

FIFA to discuss rules on leagues taking games overseas
Global soccer’s governing body FIFA will discuss whether to place a ban on domestic league games being played in other countries as its stakeholders committee meet in Zurich on 27th February.

The agenda for the meeting, revealed by ESPN, incudes an item that refers to ‘Official league matches played in the territory of another member federation: amendments to the FIFA International Match Rules’ and another that mentions ‘Clubs participating in competitions of the territory of another member federation: applications covered by art. 73 of the FIFA Statutes.’ Article 73 refers to playing matches outside of an association, league or club’s own territory only in ‘exceptional circumstances’ under authorisation from ‘member associations, the respective confederation[s] and by FIFA’.

Whilst the topic looks set to be discussed by the committee, it can only advise the 37-member FIFA Council which would make a final decision on the matter.

In the past two years, LaLiga, the top-tier of Spanish soccer, has twice tried to host matches in the US as part of its joint venture with Relevant Sports but both attempts proved unsuccessful.

With overseas interest coming into Major League Soccer’s (MLS) home market, Commissioner Don Garber has said he is opposed to the idea of leagues taking games overseas. Garber and US Soccer Federation (USSF) President Carlos Cordeiro both sit on the FIFA stakeholders committee and will be in Switzerland for the meeting.

Speaking at a recent MLS media day, he said: “Personally, as we continue to develop professional soccer, both in the United States and in other leagues, I believe home games should be played at home stadiums. That has been my view from the beginning.

"It shouldn't be about one or two leagues trying to do something just because one or two clubs are pushing for it, when it is probably not even in the interests of that league."

MLS told the BBC that it ‘doesn't have a say in whether to allow other leagues to play regular season matches in the United States. That is a decision for US Soccer and Concacaf’.

The Zurich meeting comes as FIFA President Gianni Infantino published a document outlining his objectives for the soccer body under his tenure through 2023.

The initiatives include reviewing the international match calendar; ‘optimising’ the laws of the game to promote offensive tactics; improving e-commerce platforms; reducing the global disparity between the levels of play; creating more opportunities for men’s and women’s teams to play internationally; creating a distinct brand identity for women’s football, underpinned by ‘an innovative digital strategy’; enhancing and expanding the availability of VAR; as well as exploring new mobile platforms and content featuring real-time analysis, to increase entertainment value.

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