On February 27th, soccer’s worldwide governing body FIFA held a meeting to discuss the potential of banning domestic league fixtures from taking place in other countries.
For example, if Liverpool wished to play Manchester United in a league fixture in the United States of America as opposed to Anfield.
According to ESPN, Article 73 of the FIFA Statutes is what is being revisited. Article 73 states that domestic matches played outside of the league or club’s own country can only take place under ‘exceptional circumstances’ and under authorisation from ‘member associations, the respective confederation[s] and by FIFA’.
We have seen this happen sporadically in the past, especially in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League competitions. It’s usually a result of fans overstepping their boundaries and believing they’re bigger than the game itself.
This actually happened again very recently during Bayern Munich’s 6-0 away win at Hoffenheim on Saturday. In the second half, a group of travelling Bayern fans held up expletive signs directed at Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp.
Bayern players and coach Hansi Flick ran across the pitch and pleaded for the signs to be taken down. The fans weren’t exactly keen to accommodate their requests.
The game was temporarily stopped in the 77th minute before players eventually returned to the field. In their own protest against the actions of those fans, both sides refused to play for the remaining 13 minutes, instead kicking the ball amongst one another and conversing in the middle of the pitch.
After the final whistle, all players and coaching staff from both teams stood at Hopp’s side in front of the Hoffenheim fans and everyone applauded the German billionaire.
These kinds of incidents aren’t seen every day in the soccer world and we can be thankful for that. But when these incidents do happen, consequences are laid out for both fans and club alike.
Often, future fixtures are played in empty stadiums. A recent example of this was after the farcical scenes that took place in Bulgaria during their national team’s 6-0 loss to the English.
Bulgaria’s next home match against the Czech Republic was played in an empty stadium as punishment, as well as a measly 75,000 euro fine.
The full story on this can be found here:
However, domestic games being played outside of the home country are rare if ever.
FIFA has decided to look into this following two attempts from Spanish top flight La Liga to host domestic league fixtures in the United States of America.
La Liga is partnered with Relevant Sports, a soccer events and media business based out of California. In an attempt to promote the game on the Western front, they have requested to have games played there in recent times.
Both attempts didn’t come to fruition and now FIFA is stepping in to ensure that there is no ‘third time lucky’.
From a business perspective, it makes sense as the game would attract a lot more attention, being a fixture played for league points. The best players would be there, giving their all. The stadium would be completely filled out and it would more than likely be a successful venture.
Imagine if it was an ‘El Clasico’ between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. Except instead of taking place at the Nou Camp or the Santiago Bernabeu, it was played at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
Soccer fans across the Americas would flock to see the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema play for league points.
The FIFA committee has recommended that this ban be implemented and now it may just be a matter of time before it’s a reality.
However, whether it’s on or off the field, soccer is a funny game and anything can happen. The decision is expected to be finalised on the 20th of March.
What are your thoughts on the potential ban of domestic fixtures being played overseas? Let us know on social media @Soccersceneau
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