La Liga Offers Athletic The Chance To Compete In The North America Summer Tour
During his Presidential campaign Aitor Elizegi promoted his desire to see the Athletic brand grow on an international level. He expressed ideas for the Zurigorri to visit the United States and areas of South America, where there are heavy Basque populations, and establish Athletic as a more recognized club across the globe. Touring other continents is never easy, but thanks to La Liga it just became a lot easier.
Javier Ortiz De Lazcano of El Correo has reported that La Liga has offered Athletic the chance to participate in this summer’s LFP World Challenge. The competition began in 2014 with the goal of growing the identity of Spanish football around the world. So far a total of 13 clubs have traveled to other continents to participate in the competition – Eibar, Sevilla, Girona, Rayo Vallecano, Espanyol, Valencia, Real Sociedad, Villarreal, Atlético Madrid, Deportivo, Granada, Almería, and Málaga.
Athletic have yet to join in the LFP World Challenge mainly due to the previous Board of Directors. In fact, they were offered the chance to go to Australia in 2015 but turned it down. Former President Josu Urrutia preferred not to travel outside of Europe and Athletic did so only once during his tenure. In 2015 Athletic traveled to Boise, Idaho for a friendly match and to visit the local Basque community. Things are different under Elizegi who has already started to build a firm relationship with La Liga and the Spanish Football Federation.
La Liga wants this summer’s World Challenge to be the best one yet and Athletic were one of the first clubs approached with an offer. The dates and schedules have yet to be decided but in theory Athletic would play games in Mexico City, Houston, and either Miami or New York. Participating in the World Challenge would also bring income which has been a big focal point for President Elizegi. Sources say that Athletic are very interested in the offer, but will first have to see where they finish in the table before making any plans.
If Athletic finish 7th and manage to enter the qualifying rounds of the Europa League they would have to play matches in the summer. This would prevent them from being able to take part in the LFP World Challenge. However, if they miss out on Europe or finish 6th or higher their schedule will allow for the Lions to participate in the summer tour.