A year ago, the dipshits in charge of Spain’s top soccer league and some dipshits on the American sports marketing scene conked their little pea-brains together and came up with a 15-year contract that would see one La Liga match played in the United States every season. Because the parties involved are, as previously mentioned, dipshits, their plan to bring a Barcelona-Girona match to Miami last season crashed and burned. Unchastened by that debacle, the dipshits are back at it again this year. And once again, they look primed for failure.
This morning, La Liga, Atlético Madrid, and Villarreal officially petitioned the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) to allow those two clubs to play their scheduled Week 16 match on Dec. 8 in Miami rather than Villarreal. In their joint statement, the parties invoked all the same phony ideals the league tried to use last time to disguise the fact that the plan only serves the greedy interests that are an existential threat to the game itself. The joint statement is long, includes lots of flowery language about growing the game and bringing La Liga to its millions of fans around the globe, and will almost certainly lead to naught, just like last time.
It appears that the forces behind this plot—those being La Liga and Relevant Sports, the aforementioned American sports marketing company—haven’t gotten any closer to reaching an agreement with the parties that ultimately thwarted last season’s attempt. Last time around, one of the sticking points was that the league hadn’t gotten an agreement from the players union before signing off on the deal. The players were understandably incensed by this, and threatened to go on strike over it.
This time, the league says it has informed the Atlético and Villarreal players and coaches of the plan, to which the players have “shown enthusiasm in taking football to their fans in the US.” If it’s true that the two squads are into the idea, that is an improvement on the last go-round. Though without getting consent from the entire players union—the joint statement only says the union “has been informed of the request”—this could once again cause an uproar and ruin the whole deal.
But convincing the union to sign off on this isn’t even the biggest hurdle La Liga will have to jump in order to realize their Miami dream. The biggest opponent to last season’s attempt to play a game in Miami was Luis Rubiales, the president of the RFEF. He has wasted no time reiterating that he has zero interest in allowing the Miami game to happen this time, either.
In a press conference today, Rubiales told reporters that letting La Liga steal a game from local Spanish fans and sell it off to Americans would “disrupt the competition,” and for that reason he is against it. And he knows that his federation has the power to prevent it. “To play a game in Miami,” Rubiales said in the presser, “LaLiga needs permission from five bodies that it doesn’t have.” Those five bodies are 1) the RFEF, 2) FIFA, 3) CONCACAF, 4) U.S. Soccer, and 5) MLS. You can also throw in a sixth body, UEFA, which would also need to okay the plan. Without securing a “Yes” from each of those groups, the deal will be dead.
The infamous intransigence of Rubiales by itself pretty much kills any chance of the Miami game happening now or in the foreseeable future. FIFA president Gianni Infantino is also on the record as hating the idea of domestic leagues holding regular season games on foreign soil, which is another death knell. (However, the only principle you can rely on that oily bastard to stick to is the one that says more money is better, so it’s conceivable that wheel could come unstuck with a little grease.) With Rubiales dead set against it, FIFA against it at least for now, a UEFA president who seems like he would be against it, and with CONCACAF, U.S. Soccer, and MLS all having good reasons to be against it, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Atlético and Villarreal are indeed facing off down in Miami in a couple months.
You’d think La Liga and Relevant would’ve spent the past year trying to soften up Rubiales before launching this latest attempt to organize the stateside match, or at least would’ve formed a coalition with each of the other parties that have to sign off on the deal so that they could show Rubiales that he was the lone hold-out and try to force his vote that way. But it appears the geniuses behind the scenes did none of that, and instead just hope that for some reason things will be different this time.
That is great news for the sanctity of the sport, and potentially augurs well for the similar battles for soccer’s soul that are soon to come. The forces who want to ruin the game may be rich and powerful, but they are mostly a bunch of dipshits. Sometimes, simply not being very stupid is all it takes to win.