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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Euro Soccer Finds Fertile Ground In U.S., With More Likely To Come

  • European clubs will continue to look to the U.S. for future exhibition and business opportunities.
  • "Having official matches here, it’s not a matter of if, but when," a La Liga official told Front Office Sports.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the historic growth of Major League Soccer — only accelerating with the arrival of Lionel Messi — U.S. fans are proving yet again that there’s nothing quite like seeing the best players in the world.

A record crowd of 82,026 showed up at the home of the Dallas Cowboys — AT&T Stadium in Arlington — on Saturday for an exhibition installment of Spain’s legendary El Clásico rivalry between La Liga’s FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. Far from a one-off, the match is part of global investment firm Sixth Street’s Soccer Champions Tour to capitalize on American fans’ desire to fill NFL and college football stadiums to see top European players.

An exhibition doubleheader featuring Premier League teams Newcastle-Chelsea and Brentford-Brighton drew a sold out crowd of 70,789 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Wednesday night in Atlanta.

Even with MLS expansion, new stadiums, record attendance, and growing franchise values, the league still isn’t a No. 1 global destination for top players in their primes — unlike most other major North American pro leagues.

That means major European clubs will continue to look to the U.S. for future exhibition and business opportunities, a situation exacerbated by increased American ownership of said clubs.

The next phase: European regular-season matches played on American soil. 

“Having official matches here, it’s not a matter of if, but when,” Boris Gartner, CEO of La Liga North America, told Front Office Sports.

La Liga in particular has sought to bring league matches to the U.S. but has run into resistance from FIFA, Spanish regulators, and fans thus far, while legal entanglements remain. But momentum and attitudes are changing.

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