Leagues Cup with MLS can help Liga MX become ‘top-five’ league in world

Liga MX president Mikel Arriola believes that Mexico’s first division can become a top-five league in the world through participation in the Leagues Cup with MLS.

“We are evolving in terms of size,” said Arriola during the World Football Summit. “I don’t see why not with MLS, we are going to be in the top 10 or the top five of the leagues in the world.”

Both MLS and Liga MX will pause next summer to take part in the interleague Leagues Cup, with the winner getting a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League round of 16 and the second and third place finishers earning spots in the opening round.

During the summit, Arriola focused on the benefits of not only the collaboration with MLS, but also talked about the importance of playing games in the United States, using Mexico’s national team as an example of the financial benefits.

“You have seen a lot of games of our national team played in the U.S.,” Arriola said. “Well that is not an element of surprise because whenever the national team of Mexico plays in the U.S. they generate seven times more income compared to a national team [game] played in Mexico,” Arriola said, while adding that of its 157 million fans, 60 million live in the U.S.

Arriola also revealed new details about the Leagues Cup with MLS, including that all of the tournament’s 2023 games will be played in the U.S. with teams put in 15 groups of three and the top two teams from each group advancing to the knockout round.

Earlier this year, Liga MX’s president told TUDN that the plan is to have 15 venues for the competition.

Arriola was adamant on Thursday that Liga MX has centralized TV rights for the Leagues Cup. Traditionally in Liga MX, clubs have individual rights for TV.

“Our aim is to continue centralizing the TV rights and other assets, by going from an organizer of games, to asset broker,” he said.

The Liga MX president also mentioned areas of improvements that need to be made, specifically regarding the transfer of domestic players abroad. Although the league moved nine players over the summer transfer window to Europe — a record for Liga MX — Mexico remains far behind other nations when it comes to exporting up-and-coming names.

“What happens when they become professional at 20? Or 18 or 19? The problem in our league is that we pay more at that age than the European leagues,” Arriola said. “We have 32 players in Europe, the U.S. has 220, Brazil has 1,200, Argentina has 700.”

In order to close the gap, Liga MX has recently signed agreements with LaLiga, the Bundesliga and Serie A to foster connections abroad.