La Liga is to make history by staging its first games outside of Europe, with a 15-year partnership with entertainment group Relevent set to take games to the U.S. and Canada.
A newly-formed organisation, called La Liga North America, is seeking to expand the reach of the Spanish top-flight and promote football culture beyond established borders.
Competitive fixtures will form part of the agreement, offering a new audience the opportunity to catch superstar performers from Barcelona and Real Madrid – such as Lionel Messi and Gareth Bale – in action.
The operation, which will accompany North America’s efforts building towards the 2026 World Cup , will include a number of other activities such as youth academies, coaching development, marketing agreements and exhibition matches.
“This extraordinary joint venture is the next giant leap in growing soccer’s popularity in North America,” Stephen Ross, chairman and owner of Relevent, said in a statement released on La Liga’s official website .
“This unique relationship will create new opportunities for millions of North American soccer fans to experience the most passionate, exciting, and highest level of soccer in the world.”
La Liga president Javier Tebas added: “We’re devoted to growing the passion for soccer around the world.
“This ground-breaking agreement is certain to give a major impulse to the popularity of the beautiful game in the U.S. and Canada.
“Relevent has filled stadiums across the U.S. with the International Champions Cup, we’re thrilled to partner with them on a joint mission to grow soccer in North America.”
The venture will have a dedicated team focused on enhancing the Liga brand, with new doors being opened to the clubs and partners of the Spanish top tier.
“This partnership demonstrates La Liga’s vision and foresight to be the top soccer league in the world,” said Relevent CEO Danny Sillman.
“Combining La Liga’s long tradition of excellence and unparalleled international reputation with Relevent’s expertise in this market will accelerate the growth and popularity of soccer in North America and La Liga’s global brand.”
La Liga International Development Director Oscar Mayo went on to add: “Joining with Relevent to create La Liga North America is a major milestone in our international expansion strategy.
“This agreement ensures not only a bright future for soccer in North America, but also for La Liga and our clubs.”
While La Liga are delighted to have put a new partnership in place, the Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE) has hit out at a project it claims to have had no input in.
A statement released by the AFE on its official website read: “In reference to the agreement made between La Liga and the company Relevent, which includes that an official league match will be played in the United States, the AFE strongly objects.
“As per usual, La Liga has dispensed with the opinions of the players and has undertaken actions that only benefit them, regardless of the health or risks to the players, and even less the feelings of the following masses of the clubs who are being "forced" to compete in North America once a season.
“Faced with such manifest arbitrariness, David Aganzo, president of the Spanish Footballers Association (AFE), has made his complaint public and points out that ‘footballers are not currency that can be used in business to only benefit third parties’.”