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Premier League in the US? FIFA weighs allowing overseas games

FIFA is to consider allowing domestic leagues to play matches overseas, opening the door to money-spinning English Premier League or Spanish La Liga clashes being staged in the United States, the Middle East or Asia.

Football’s world governing body on Wednesday agreed to set up a 10-15 strong working group to examine the idea and make recommendations.

The Premier League and La Liga, with their vast global followings, have long mooted the idea of playing matches outside their home territories.

The new FIFA committee will “gather further information and issue recommendations to the Council regarding potential amendments to the FIFA Regulations Governing International Matches (FRGIM)”, the body said in a statement.

The council — FIFA’s regular decision-making body — said the group would consider 10 aspects of hosting overseas games.

These include the impact on fans, how it would affect the balance of the competition, whether the games would be one-offs or a regular feature, and the impact on football.

Top European clubs regularly play lucrative friendlies around the world such as Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United’s clash in Melbourne next Wednesday, just three days after the end of the Premier League season.

US broadcasters in particular are keen to cash in on the booming popularity of the English top flight by hosting competitive matches.

La Liga has said it aims to play matches in North America as early as 2025. 

Up to now, dreams of a mouthwatering Arsenal v Manchester City or Real Madrid v Barcelona clash stateside have been thwarted by FIFA rules that say competitive league games must be played in their home country.

Much-discussed plans for a Premier League “39th game” overseas were dropped in 2008 following opposition from supporters’ groups, FIFA and UEFA.

But a legal challenge in the United States last month prompted FIFA to reconsider their long-held opposition to out-of-territory matches.

The move came as delegates gather in Bangkok for FIFA’s annual congress on Friday, where the host of the next Women’s World Cup will be decided.

After the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand lifted the profile of the women’s game to new heights, FIFA will decide whether to award the 2027 edition to Brazil or a joint bid from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

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