Could a FIFA lawsuit mean European league games may soon be played abroad?

FIFA are considering a change to their existing rules to allow domestic league games to be played abroad.

Since 2019, the world governing body of football has been embroiled in a lawsuit with a promoter called, Relevent Sports.

Relevent Sports was the creator of the International Champions Cup, a series of preseason friendlies between international club teams hosted in the USA. 

Relevant Sports has been trying to hold a regular-season European league fixture in USA since 2018.

However, FIFA has, so far, banned domestic leagues from playing regular-season games outside its home territory.

That may be all about to change.

Relevent sued FIFA and the US Soccer Federation for violating U.S. antitrust law designed to prevent unjust collusion or monopolies.

After much legal wrangling, yesterday Relevant agreed to drop FIFA as a defendant in the case on the basis that FIFA is bound by the final decision, so long as it applies to “any rules, policies, or practices concerning official season games held outside of the participating league’s and teams’ home territory.”

In a statement to The Athletic, Relevent Sports indicated that the agreement was made “while FIFA considers changes to its existing rules about whether games can be played outside of a league’s home territory.”

FIFA said it “has not admitted any liability and continues to deny the legal claims alleged in Relevent’s complaint.”

The outcome of this case could clear the path for changes to FIFA policy and free European clubs up to play official league matches outside of their ‘home territory’, resulting in teams staging official matches in the United States, Asia or elsewhere.

The top European leagues have long capitalised on the international commercial market with preseason tours.

Six Premier League played a “Summer Series” in the U.S. last year and a “Summer Champions Tour” is being held this summer with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, and AC Milan.

In 2022, Bayern Munich held their fifth summer trip to the USA, playing two friendly fixtures against DC United and Manchester City.

Last pre-season, Bayern Munich travelled to Asia, whilst Borussia Dortmund and Kaiserslautern toured the USA.

It may not be long until European clubs return to international shores in league action, but German clubs may have to overcome fan opposition to pursue these new revenue streams.

GGFN | Oscar O’Mara


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