Atletico Madrid, Sevilla headline LaLiga North American summer tour

LaLiga North America, the joint venture involving Spain's LaLiga and promoters Relevent Sports, announced that its summer tour will involve Atletico Madrid, Real Betis, Real Sociedad and Sevilla.

The tour will be comprised of four exhibition matches with Atletico Madrid taking on Real Sociedad on Aug. 2 in Monterrey, Mexico, while city rivals Betis and Sevilla will play in Guadalajara on the same day. The latter match could feature Mexico internationals Andres Guardado with Real Betis and Sevilla's "Tecatito" Corona.

The tour will conclude three days later with a doubleheader at San Francisco's Oracle Park, with Atleti taking on Sevilla while Real Sociedad will play Real Betis.

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The tour is the latest attempt to increase La Liga's visibility in North America, even as Relevent Sports is engaged in litigation against the U.S. Soccer Federation and FIFA in a bid to hold official league matches from LaLiga in the United States.

While North America is a region where interest in the English Premier League runs high, La Liga North America president Boris Gartner noted that the large number of Spanish speakers across the continent allows for building deeper connections with fans in the region.

"North America is a key market," Gartner told ESPN. "The Premier League has been a lot more intentional in their international expansion over the past decade. But if you really look at the demographic in general, this country is probably getting more diverse and multicultural by the day.

"[La Liga] has a cultural connection that no other property really has. The players from the national teams in their home countries, most of them either play in LaLiga or have passed through LaLiga. So there is that emotional connection as well. So we feel that we have a lot to do, but that this territory specifically, and North America in general, is a huge growth market where we have really great cultural connection, language connection with, with the growing demographic in the country."

LaLiga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid will not be part of the tour. The two clubs currently have a tense relationship with LaLiga over their continued support of the proposed European Super League, as well as they fact that during the 2021-22 season two clubs earned more than a fifth of LaLiga's television revenue.

Nonetheless, Gartner is keen to broaden the league's appeal. Atletico Madrid has challenged the duopoly between Barcelona and Real Madrid in recent years, winning La Liga as recently as 2020-21.

"Not being naïve, the audience and the power that those two brands command is something that we have to play to our advantage," Gartner said. "But we've constantly been trying to tell stories around the rest of the teams that participate in the league just because we are at the end of the day promoting the competition."

European clubs have drawn criticism in the past for touring the U.S. without their best players. Gartner said while there are no absolutes, the fact that this summer won't include a men's World Cup or European Championship will help ensure that the four LaLiga clubs will bring their top performers.

"This is a very clean summer as we're calling it," Gartner said in reference to the international men's calendar. "And we are not only expecting that the teams will show up with the stars, but they've seen this as an opportunity for promotion like no other.

"So it's going to be in our best interest to show up with the stars as well."

(ESPN owns the U.S. broadcast and streaming rights for LaLiga matches.)