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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Ligue 1 Matches May End Up In U.S. To Bolster Media Deal

  • Ligue 1 is considering playing regular-season matches in the U.S.
  • The move could entice U.S. broadcasters to pay more for upcoming media rights.
Witters Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Kylian Mbappe will grace U.S. soccer fans with his presence at the 2026 FIFA World Cup — but the Paris Saint Germain star and his European counterparts could be playing on American soil even sooner, thanks in part to Ligue 1’s ambitious international expansion plans.

France’s top flight is in the final season of its current media rights deals and wants to boost its financial value exponentially with new contracts.

BeIN Sports currently has Ligue 1’s media rights for broadcasts outside of France, for which it pays $85 million annually. Ligue 1 would like that number to triple. 

In an effort to increase what its matches are worth to broadcasters, the league is apparently considering playing regular-season matches in the U.S.

LFP Media CEO Ben Morel, whose company sells Ligue 1’s media rights, said “bringing meaningful games to the U.S.” is a top priority.  “They can’t just be exhibition games,” Morel told Sports Business Journal. “They have to be games that matter.”

Breaking New Ground

While exhibition matches in the U.S. have become a staple for many top European clubs, league competitions have thus far resisted or have been unable to facilitate playing meaningful matches in the U.S.

Spain’s La Liga has been trying to bring a regular-season match to the U.S., but its efforts have been tied up in court.

UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin has said that he’s open to the idea of playing UEFA Champions League matches in the U.S. Meanwhile, some organizers of the 2026 World Cup have made calls for the English Premier League to play matches in America.

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