Lionel Messi not letting LaLiga matches out of Spain without a fight
LaLiga is set for major changes in the future, and the key aspect will be the location of matches throughout upcoming seasons. Last week, the Spanish top flight announced a 15-year deal with Relevant (the group behind the International Champions Cup competition) that will bring at least one league match per season to North America.
The goal is to develop LaLiga’s overall popularity in the region, but players are not so quick to embrace the new ideas. Lionel Messi and other captains from around Spain will be set for a meeting this week with the Spanish Footballers’ Association, and they will be taking a hard stance against travelling across the globe for games. LaLiga president Javier Tebas is expected to be in attendance.
Alongside the likes of Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos and Atlético Madrid’s Diego Godín, Messi will help to make a case for all league matches remaining in Spain. Another topic that is expected to be discussed at these meetings will be kick-off times, particularly on Friday and Monday evenings.
This decision is a positive one from Messi and his counterparts, as the choice from LaLiga to stage games in North America is fraught with difficulties and problems. For the players, the league is suddenly adding extra travel for two teams, potentially in the midst of a hectic fixture list depending on the clubs involved. With Copa del Rey action or European matches making much of the season quite busy, a trip across the Atlantic Ocean is not ideal.
For the fans, supporting your club becomes a logistical nightmare. Jetting off to the United States is not an easy or feasible option for many, and ultimately it will be a source of great frustration.
In terms of the integrity of a LaLiga season, that is where the greatest tragedy lies in all this. 20 clubs, 38 matches, playing each side home and away. That is the foundation of a league campaign, and that structure will be forever altered if these plans move forward. The first of these games abroad could potentially take place later in the current 2018-19 term.
The meeting on Wednesday may sway some feelings, and it also may not have an effect at all. However, to see Lionel Messi and other players from around Spain battling for what they believe to be right is wonderful to see. Messi is Barcelona’s captain now, and he is demonstrating a significant level of leadership not only for the Blaugrana, but for other Spanish clubs as well.
The North American market is important to LaLiga, but this is too heavy of a cost for all involved.