Girona OKs planned La Liga game against Barcelona in US
MADRID (AP) — Girona is willing to play a regular-season game against Barcelona in the United States as part of La Liga’s goal of promoting soccer and the league in North America, the small club said Thursday.
Girona said in a statement it is working with the league and Barcelona to finalize details of the proposed game, which has attracted criticism from Spain’s players’ association and some clubs and fans.
The league last month announced its plan to play in the U.S. as part of a new 15-year partnership with sports and entertainment group Relevent, which operates the International Champions Cup, a tournament played during the European offseason in July and August across the globe.
La Liga had not said which teams would be involved, nor when or where the game would be played, although Miami appears to be the first option.
Girona said it accepted the proposal because it sees a “great opportunity for expansion” for the club and the city, which has a population of about 100,000 people and is located a little over an hour by car from Barcelona in northeastern Spain.
“A little over three years ago the club was fighting for its survival and now our goal is to consolidate ourselves in the first division,” it said. “This action would be another step toward showing our will to remain competing in soccer’s elite.”
Girona said one of the issues being discussed was how to compensate the club’s fans as it would be relinquishing a home game in the league. The club said it would try to offer several options for its members so they would not feel at a disadvantage.
Spanish media said one of the plans was to charter planes so Girona fans could make the trip to the U.S. and watch the game.
This is Girona’s second season in Spain’s first division.
Captains of the first-division clubs were against the league’s “unilateral decision” to take league matches outside of Spain, saying they should have been consulted in advance.
The clubs and La Liga are expected to seek approval from Spain’s soccer federation in the next few days.