La Liga…in the USA?
The soccer world is abuzz today with the news that a verified European football league, specifically Spain’s La Liga will play at least one match per season in North America for the next decade and a half. Before delving into what this could potentially mean for soccer and its footprint on this side of the Atlantic, it’s important to realize that La Liga has become the first to do what many football fans have been clamoring for for years: staging matches in the United States and/or Canada that actually matter. By “actually matter,” fans refer to matches that actually have some bearing on the outcome of a league’s season.
So why has this finally happened after years of asking? Another question is why is La Liga stepping up to the plate instead of another league like Serie A or the Premier League? Well, to answer the first question, the appeal of football, or soccer as we tend to call it stateside, has never been higher. Viewership of football matches is at its highest level in North America and with the announcement that the 2026 World Cup will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico, now is as good a time as any to introduce fully competitive European football matches to North America.
The second question however is a little harder to answer. The likely answer is that, even with the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo, who moved to Serie A’s Juventus, La Liga still sports some of the biggest names in world football, such as Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann, to name a couple. Additionally, La Liga has long been revered as the league that not only plays the best of the Big Five, but has dominated international competition over the last decade. In the last decade, Spanish teams have brought home 6 Europa League titles and a whopping 7 Champions League titles, leaving little doubt as to which European league reigns supreme.
Obviously, La Liga will not want to stage these North American matches with anyone less than big market teams, so we should fully expect to see these matches be ties between any combination of Spanish powerhouses like Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Atletico de Madrid, Sevilla, Valencia and maybe even Real Betis. This presents not only the opportunity for high-profile matches, but high-profile rivalry matches, as all six teams have intense rivalries with at least one other team mentioned.
This deal has no doubt taken years to put together, but time will show that it was more than worth it. It’s very likely that La Liga’s foray into North America will see ticket prices skyrocket, which will no doubt make the Spaniards very happy. That said, perhaps the happiest group of all will be U.S. Soccer and American-based football fans, who will at long last get to see top-rate competition on their own shores.