FIFA moves toward ending soccer tradition and letting league games be staged in other countries

Author:
NBC Sports Bay Area

 FIFA moved Wednesday toward ending decades of soccer tradition by reviewing the rules that currently block domestic league games being played in other countries.

Fans are likely to object to their teams’ home matches potentially being moved thousands of miles (kilometers) away.

The United States and Saudi Arabia are expected to be willing hosts to lure competitive games from top European countries, and FIFA recently agreed to withdraw from an ongoing court case in New York filed by promoter Relevent to challenge the policy.

The new FIFA policy will likely be attractive to the growing number of international owners of European clubs, including the wave of U.S. investors in the English Premier League, Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue 1, and state-backed teams like Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City, Qatar-owned Paris Saint-Germain and Saudi-owned Newcastle.

FIFA is now creating a panel of 10-15 people representing soccer stakeholders to advise within months on amending the rules on so-called “out-of-territory” games. The rules were last amended in 2014.

Attempts since then to have European league games abroad, including taking Barcelona to Miami in 2019, were blocked as U.S. promoters seek to give fans more than just preseason exhibition games involving the world’s best club teams.

FIFA directed its working group, which is yet to be appointed, to consider fairness and giving “advance notice to fans who may miss the opportunity to attend a home or away match in the home territory.”

Other factors for the FIFA panel include “respect for the recognized structure of international football” and potential disruption to fans, teams and leagues in the country hosting “out-of-territory” games.

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