La Liga’s General Secretary in MENA, Fernando Sanz, has expressed his hope that a Spanish top-flight match may one day be played in the Middle East.
Last year, the league unveiled a lucrative deal with US media company Relevent that included plans to host one La Liga game per season in the United States.
However it was a decision that drew criticism from fans in Spain, as well as the Spanish FA and players’ union, who refused to back the deal.
Despite those complaints, Sanz believes that playing a regular season match overseas is a natural step given the global popularity of La Liga.
When asked if a La Liga could be hosted in the Middle East, Sanz told Sport Industry Insider: “Why not? La Liga is loved in the region; in the UAE for example we can see it is loved even more that the local league.
“Hosting a La Liga match here is not possible right now but maybe it will happen in the future – it’s important we work on that possibility.
“We live in a global world and we have to be in all parts of the world. The international expansion started because we wanted to be closer to our fans.”
Real Madrid played in the UAE in the FIFA Club World Cup in 2017 and 2018 and Sanz says the numbers of fans who turned out to watch Los Blancos is indicative of the club’s huge support in the region.
“We have seen when Real Madrid are in the UAE…We have La Liga fans, not just in Spain, but all around the world.We are proud of this global support and we need to work for them too.”
While the NBA and NFL have successfully pursued international regular season matches, no football leagues have yet taken the step.Tthe Premier League’s ‘39th game’ proposals in 2008 were rejected and La Liga is now struggling to push through their version.
In October, the Association of Spanish Footballers president David Aganzo stated: “We have said it 200 million times, the players will not go to those games.”
And FIFA President Gianni Infantino has previously said that “official match leagues must be played within the territory of the respective member association”.