Equal Time: La Liga hosting matches overseas? nonsense
Spanish football. At this current juncture, it's viewed as the best. Real Madrid have won back-to-back-to-back Champions League titles, asserting their ever-growing European dominance, spearheaded by Cristiano Ronaldo, who has now taken his talents to Turin. Then you have Lionel Messi's FC Barcelona. They've played a style never before seen within the beautiful game.
Imagine the surprise on the faces of La Liga's world-class superstars when they were told they'd have to play regular season games across the Atlantic ocean? Oh, how I'd love to be a fly on the wall in that meeting. It has been confirmed that top-flight league matches will be hosted in both the United States and Canada. Although no timeframe has been announced as to when, or where, the first match will be staged, I cannot help but hold the immediate thought that this is a horrendous idea.
I mean sure, while it may be great for football fans who call The Land of Opportunity their home, for everyone else, this spells trouble. Let's start with the players who currently ply their trade in Spain. Do you really think they'll be overjoyed at the thought of jet-setting off to Los Angeles in the midst of a title charge? Or heading to Alaska late on in the campaign where they're trying to avoid relegation? You can bet your bottom dollar they'd rather be performing in front of their home fans in a stadium that they're familiar with.
Fatigue is a real thing. Spending twenty hours (round-trip) bunked up on a plane is a terrible idea. In a year where major international competition takes place in the summer, it's going to have a major effect on fitness levels. Don't be surprised to see La Liga players start picking up injuries on a more regular basis. Imagine the horror if Luis Suarez tore his ACL in training a day or two after returning from a 'home' game against Eibar in CenturyLink Field...
It was our American friends who started this trend. As avid NFL fans will know, at least three regular season games are now played in England every year. It's a similar pattern. While it's super to see our heroes travel across the pond in a serious game, do you think those guys are overjoyed at heading to England for one game, before swiftly flying back to return to reality, feeling more tired, exhausted and out-of-sync than they would have if they'd just stayed at home? Not really. I don't think it's a coincidence that Bill Belichick's New England Patriots only flew over once for a regular season game and haven't returned since.
Without question, the most important people in professional sports are the fans. Imagine telling a die-hard, passionate Basque that they'll be attending two less Athletic Club games every season because they're going to be staged in Montreal or Florida? If this happened to me, as a match-going fan, I'd be absolutely livid.
Then, you have the fairness of it all. Does this mean that some clubs are going to play more home games than others? The crowd often play a huge part in those tight-knit, top-of-the-table encounters. Imagine the uproar if Real Madrid played nineteen home games, while FC Barcelona only had eighteen chances to play in front of their supporters. The league would have to work out the perfect solution so that every one of the twenty teams would be on a level playing field. Good luck with that.
You also have to consider the knock-on effect. From a financial standpoint, if La Liga's pockets get deeper due to this, you just know other European leagues will follow suit. Within the next decade, Manchester United could well be taking on Liverpool in Brisbane, Australia in a potential title-decider. Do you see how ridiculous that sounds? Isn't that what pre-season is for?
For me, the cons far outweigh the pros, for which I can only think of one. It's just an awful precedent to set. Things are only going to get worse from here. That's football in the modern-day, I suppose, when all that matters is that the rich get richer. Who cares about the match-going fans anymore, eh?