LaLiga USA: player's union cools strike talk as LFP offers olive branch
A meeting between the warring Spanish football factions offered little further progress on the mooted USA game but rhetoric on both sides softened.
LaLiga and the AFE Spanish footballers’ union met on Monday in the latest round of sparring over the former’s plan to stage an official league match in the USA this season to kick-start a 15-year deal between the Spanish Professional Football League (LFP) and US multinational media, sports and entertainment group Relevent.
The game slated for the inaugural US showcase is Girona vs Barcelona, which is scheduled for week 21 of Liga action at the former’s Montilivi stadium but will be played in Miami if the LFP gets its way. AFE has previously threatened to strike if the LFP unilaterally pushes ahead with the plan, pointing out that the national governing body failed to consult players about the scheme before penning the agreement with Relevent. However, the union softened its stance on Monday after being assured that further details over the proposal would be made available this week. Meanwhile, the LFP also offered a sweetener in the form of a 15-day open trial for 25 unattached Spanish professional footballers in the US, during which they will train with MLS sides with a view to earning a contract.
LFP facing bureaucratic mountain to stage USA Liga fixture
The stumbling block for AFE is that LaLiga officially requires no authorization to go ahead with the USA game, although 25 captains and players of the 20 Primera División clubs met in Madrid last month to draft a formal objection to the plan. What the LFP will require is a pile of documents from the Spanish Higher Sports Council (CSD), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Uefa, Concacaf and the United States Soccer Federation before any official Liga games can be held in the USA.
“[LFP president Javier] Tebas views football as a business and there are matters that have to be agreed among all parties,” AFE president David Aganzo said after the meeting, at which Tebas was also present. “We want more information to be able to pass on to the players. This is not just a question of Girona or Barcelona. This could affect everybody for the next 15 years.”
Tebas is expected to seek the blessing of Spanish Football Federation chief Luis Rubiales this week, which will be the first step towards making the proposal a reality. However, AFE will then call for a series of further meetings to lay out their demands, which could include a tweak to the collective bargaining agreement in place in Spanish football to include greater financial rewards for players involved in the USA fixture. AFE has also put forward the possibility of calling in a third-party arbiter to oversee the entire process.