Organizers of the 2026 World Cup have called on football authorities in Europe to consider playing competitive games in the United States.
N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy, a key part of the team which has secured World Cup games in New York and New Jersey in three years’ time, has said he is keen to see regular-season Premier League or UEFA Champions League games played in the United States.
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A number of Europe’s top clubs, including Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona, are in the U.S. playing friendly matches to prepare for the new season.
United played Arsenal in front of a sell-out 82,500 crowd at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Saturday. But Murphy believes the demand for competitive fixtures would be even higher.
“I know that the clubs have not been wild about that in Europe but I’d love to think that it would happen,” said Murphy. “You would have Barcelona playing Real Madrid in New Jersey at some point in a regular season or in a Champions League game. I would love that.
“I would just appeal either to the Champions League, if that’s UEFA, and play a game here.
“I can say unequivocally, we would die to have a real competitive game anywhere in America. If it was in New York New Jersey, you wouldn’t get near that game.
“It would be overwhelming. To have a Champions League game, you wouldn’t be able to get near it.”
In April, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin admitted he is open to a discussion about playing significant Champions League games in the United States.
“It is possible [Champions League in U.S.],” Ceferin said earlier this year. “We started to discuss about that, but then one year it is World Cup, 2024 is Euro, this year is Istanbul, ’24 in London, ’25 in Munich. And after that let’s see. It’s possible, it’s possible.”
The Spain football association (RFEF), however, has litigated repeatedly stopped LaLiga efforts to play a regular season match in Miami and is publicly opposed to any league matches outside of Spain.
In 2008, the Premier League proposed a “39th game” which would have seen an extra round of competitive fixtures staged outside England.
The concept was met with fierce criticism from fans, but Murphy points to the NFL and their move to stage meaningful games in Europe as proof that the idea can work.
“The NFL play real games in Europe with great success,” he said. “I’m a New England Patriots fan and they are playing the Indianapolis Colts in Frankfurt in November. The stadium is not that big, only 55,000 seats, and they had a demand for 700,000 tickets.
“They cut deals with the teams. Somebody has to give up a home game. They went from 16 games a year non-playoffs to 17 home games a few years ago.
“There are a whole bunch of teams that have nine home games and a whole bunch that have eight home games.
“They’ve gone after the guys with nine home games and asked them to give up that home game and play it in Europe, and the owners have agreed to do that.”
Murphy is currently leading the battle to help New York and New Jersey land the 2026 World Cup final.
MetLife Stadium has been picked as one of 16 venues but there is competition from Los Angeles and Dallas, in particular, in the race to win the final.
“We’re fighting like heck to get the final, which is to be determined,” said Murphy. “I think LA and Dallas’ names come up from time to time. I think Miami comes up.
“[Lionel] Messi may be single-handedly recalculating the odds for Miami but we think when you add everything up we have got the winning package but we’ll see. We’re not taking anything for granted.
“When people think of America, I think New York and Los Angeles are the two communities that rise above everyone else.
“I think the logic tells me you go to one of those two cities and with all due respect to them we think we play a stronger hand. We think for time zone and stadium size we’re bigger. I assume the decision gets made at the highest levels. They love what they see here.”
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