MLS may view La Liga game in U.S. as 'attack' - Javier Tebas

La Liga president Javier Tebas fears Major League Soccer may view plans to stage a regular-season game in the United States as a threat.

Tebas is working on getting permission from the Spanish Footballers' Association (AFE), the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and other organisations to hold Girona's home game against Barcelona in suburban Miami on Jan. 26.

"What worries me is that [MLS commissioner Don] Garber thinks that it is an attack against the MLS to come [to North America], which it is not," Tebas told ESPN FC in Miami, where he was a speaker at the SportBusiness Summit. "I insist it is just the opposite."

Tebas believes holding the game in the U.S., which is part of La Liga's agreement with Relevent Sports to promote the league in North America, will benefit many, including MLS.

"It's much more than the concept of bringing a football match to the United States," Tebas said. "We are [considering] an agreement to establish academies in the United States, to look for sponsors, to work so that football also grows in the United States.

"We believe that if football grows [in the United States], a part of us will be able to benefit, just as MLS and other competitions can benefit. Therefore, it would be a broad agreement."

FIFA president Gianni Infantino expressed reservations over allowing La Liga to host a game in the United States, insisting that teams should "play a home match at home, and not in a foreign country" in defence of MLS.

"The truth is that sometimes I'm surprised to hear Infantino talk about MLS and say that," Tebas said. "The MLS also has three teams from Canada playing in the competition [even though in Canada] there is also a professional league. They do not play just a game [outside the U.S.] but they play many in Canada. I really think that, once they reflect on it and the decision comes, it will lead them to say yes to the game. It will benefit everyone."

La Liga requires approval of the RFEF, as well as Spain's sports council, UEFA, U.S. Soccer and CONCACAF, but, according to Tebas, it does not need FIFA's consent to stage a league game overseas.

"[Infantino] can give his opinion on everything he wants, yes, but the decision does not depend on him," Tebas said. "That's what [FIFA's] own rules of international matches say. It is regulated and that is what we are basing ourselves on."

Still, Tebas remains confident the game will be played at Hard Rock Stadium.

"I keep saying that there is a 90 percent chance that the game will be played," he said. "But it is not mandatory to play the game [in the U.S.]. La Liga will make maximum efforts [to play it] because when you sign an agreement of this type, and say that you will make maximum efforts, I try to comply.

"We are talking about a game. It's just one game a year. When I read everything in Spain, it seems that we are going to bring the whole league to play in the United States. We are not forcing anyone to come. If the clubs, both Girona and Barca, have said that they do want to come, [it is because] they have already spoken with their players -- and that's what we're working on, so they can come. We have already resolved the issue of fans."

Players have been unanimously against La Liga's plan, but Tebas believes an agreement with the AFE will be reached.

"I believe that it is an issue that we have practically solved," Tebas said. "Now we have requested authorisation to the Spanish Football Federation. I think it will be hard for them to say no."

The Spanish FA has not taken a stance and has until Jan. 5 to respond to the petition.

Tebas believes it would be hypocritical of the Spanish FA to turn down La Liga's petition considering that the Spanish Super Cup between Barcelona and Sevilla was played last month in Tangier, Morocco.

"[RFEF president Luis] Rubiales has not directly said no, but it's hard for him to say no," Tebas said. "You can go to play the Super Cup final, an official tournament, to Morocco and [not] a La Liga match [to the U.S.]?"

Tebas also said he has been working on securing better television rights for La Liga in North America.

The rights are held in the U.S. and Canada by beIN SPORTS, which has been subject to a number of carriage disputes among providers in recent weeks.

"I am worried," Tebas said. "I am working to solve it, because it is true that beIN is commercialising [the league] for a minority part of the American public. We are aware that [La Liga games] have to reach a lot more people, because of a brand issue and because we do not sell TV rights only for collecting money but also because of exposure and work.

"We helped beIN three years ago. It has grown and now we do not want to return to the situation where we were three years ago. Therefore, we are working and I hope that in the next few weeks, we will find a solution so that all fans of Spanish football in the United States can watch the Spanish league normally."