As the Champions League group stage reaches its denouement (with Real Madrid and Barcelona into the last 16 as winners of their sections, Atlético definitely through, and Valencia definitely dropping into the Europa League), Spanish football has become even more deeply embroiled in what is an almighty mess. LaLiga president Javier Tebas has filed a lawsuit against the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) at a Madrid court, accusing the body of unfair competition. Tebas wants to further LaLiga's international presence, and with that in mind has persuaded Girona to play their home league fixture against Barcelona in Miami on 26 January. The RFEF, meanwhile, takes the view that this goes against the competition's very nature.
Tebas suspects the RFEF has an ulterior motive...
Now, the matter has landed in the in-tray of a judge who shares his surname with a Spain player from way back when, and whose task I do not envy one bit. Because this is an absolute dilly of a pickle, and a consequence of the poor relationship between the Spanish game's two chief governing bodies (or, to be exact, their presidents, Tebas and Luis Rubiales). The noble ideals that underpin sport bring with them the aspiration of co-existence without having to turn to the ordinary justice system. You may think it's fanciful to defend this notion; but it's the truth. Sport has been built upon consensus that's then respected by all; on reaching an agreement and shaking on it. Abandoning that takes us on a new path altogether.
Tebas' audacious plan seeks to move LaLiga away from its defining essence: everyone against everyone, home and away. A format invented by the English back in 1888 and then steadily spread across the world. His idea is positive in its eagerness to expand the reach of LaLiga, but, for those who swear by the basic structure of league football, it is sacrilegious. But Tebas believes the RFEF's opposition is motivated less by that than by a desire to rival LaLiga for the coin on offer from Relevent, whose keenness to exploit the Spanish game's global potential also includes the Super Cup, for example. That has led him to bring the case before a judge who must now rule on a devilishly tricky issue that is without precedent.