Opinion: US should host Club World Cup instead of LaLiga matches
In terms of football in the United States, there is always a sense of wanting to break new ground and progress on its current status. Tournaments like the International Champions Cup have made pre-season American tours a routine sight for many European powerhouses, and LaLiga matches are set to make their debut in the country as well.
Interest for the sport is at a superb level. However, bringing league matches is the wrong move. Sure, LaLiga clubs will generate some excitement, but this ultimately damages the Spanish first division. Extra travel and taking away a home match for one team destroys the ideal competitive balance for the league campaign. These fixtures will do little to grow the domestic game in a significant way, although it would be very different if US Soccer looked to secure the FIFA Club World Cup in the near future instead.
The Club World Cup began in 2000, pitting confederation winners from around the globe against each other for the title of world champion. Previous tournaments essentially attempted to do the same, most notably the Intercontinental Cup that saw European and South American sides meet in a two-leg series.
The 2018 Club World Cup will take place this coming December in the United Arab Emirates, and the US is missing out on a wonderful opportunity. The 2019 edition's location has yet to be officially announced.
In the current format, the host nation’s top-flight winner qualifies for the tournament. Critics of pre-season friendlies demand more meaningful matches played on American soil, in many ways the basis of staging LaLiga games. The Club World Cup would deliver that aspect, as well as providing a boost for a Major League Soccer squad.
MLS champions could face the likes of Real Madrid or Barcelona in a competitive match, something that many fans would desire to see. Mexican sides have dominated in the CONCACAF Champions League, and this would offer an immediate route to a FIFA event for an MLS team.
Al-Ain FC will have that chance this year in the UAE, and it is quite surprising that US Soccer and/or MLS have not looked to make this happen as soon as possible. Instead, LaLiga matches will be relocated, and America misses out on something that could benefit everyone involved in a better overall way.
European clubs coming to play in the US is certainly not anything new, dating back many decades. American fans want to see “real” fixtures in-person, and the FIFA Club World Cup can provide that in a more productive manner than having two LaLiga squads fly to Miami.
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