River Plate and Boca Juniors will play their much-anticipated decider in Madrid on Sunday, but could the game have been held in Florida?
A proposal to have the Copa Libertadores final second leg in Miami was reportedly shot down by U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro, and the organizers behind the proposal are looking for answers as to why.
Sources tell Goal that a proposal was put together to host the match in Florida shortly after fan violence led to the cancellation of the Boca Juniors-River Plate match at Estadio Monumental, but after initially being seen as one of the favorites to host the replay, Miami was taken out of the running after reportedly being turned down by U.S. Soccer.
According to CONMEBOL, Cordeiro “didn’t want” the game to be played in Miami, Argentine newspaper La Nacion reported.
U.S, Soccer sources paint a different picture to Goal of what went down with the proposed Libertadores match in Miami, citing the uncertainty surrounding a potential Libertadores final being played outside Souh America, and the short turnaround time hosting the match would have required.
The organizers of the proposed Miami match were never formally informed why the proposal was rejected by U.S. Soccer, though sources tell Goal they believe the fact the match would have taken place on the same date as Saturday’s MLS Cup final in Atlanta played at least some part in U.S. Soccer’s decision to reject the proposal.
Concerns about being able to host the match in Miami on short notice look unsubstantiated after CONMEBOL succeeded in moving the final to Madrid, where it will be played at Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.
Another underlying subplot behind opposition to a potential Copa Libertadores final being played in the United States is the proposed La Liga match that soccer promoter Relevent Sports is working with La Liga officials to bring to Miami.
Multiple sources told Goal that both U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer are opposed to any official La Liga match being held in the United States, though both American organizations are believed to be counting on FIFA and the Spanish Federation to kill off the proposal before U.S. Soccer or MLS have to.
Under that proposal, Barcelona would play Girona in Miami in January, but objections from the Spanish federation, as well as the Spanish player’s association have created hurdles that could force the proposal to be pushed back all the way to September, if it ever happens at all.
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The Spanish federation has cited concerns about competitive balance as to why the Barcelona-Girona match should not be played in Miami, rather than Girona, though the Spanish federation did approve the playing of the Copa Libertadores final second leg even though the match is a second leg that was originally slated to be played in Buenos Aires.
A Copa Libertadores final in Miami would have helped give the La Liga-Miami proposal a precedent to point to as organizers continue to push for the match to take place in the United States.
As things stand, it is looking like soccer fans in the United States have already missed out on one international final, and look likely to also miss out on seeing an official La Liga match played on American soil too.