October 26, 2018 / 1:02 PM / in 24 days

FIFA rejects La Liga plans to play Barcelona game in U.S

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - FC Barcelona v Girona - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - September 23, 2018 General view of a camera inside the stadium before the match REUTERS/Albert Gea/File Photo

(Reuters) - La Liga’s plans to host the Girona versus Barcelona domestic league game in the United States in January hit another stumbling block when soccer’s world governing body FIFA said on Friday it opposed the idea.

The Spanish league drew controversy when it signed a 15-year deal with Relevent Sports in August to expand its presence in the U.S., including taking one regular-season match per campaign over the Atlantic.

The Spanish FA opposed the idea from the off and on Friday FIFA President Gianni Infantino also rejected the idea, saying league matches had to be played on home soil.

“The FIFA council of course discussed this matter and this proposal to host an official game of La Liga outside of Spain, in Miami in particular,” Infantino said after a council meeting in Rwanda.

“The council emphasized the sporting principle that official match leagues must be played within the territory of the respective member association. So the council has clear views on that,” said Infantino, adding that he agreed with the opinion expressed.

The decision was a further blow to La Liga president Javier Tebas, who last month said he was “90 percent sure” the game would take place in the U.S.

La Liga is expected to appeal, with a spokesman saying: “Should we receive official notification from FIFA that they prohibit the match, we will take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport urgently.”

Reporting by Joseph Cassinelli in Madrid; additional reporting by ClementUwiringiyimana in Rwanda; editing by Clare Fallon

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