Spain’s players say they’ll make final decision on US game

MADRID (AP) — Spain’s players’ association says it will have the final say on whether La Liga will play a regular-season match in the United States this season.

The announcement was made after a meeting of more than two hours with league president Javier Tebas in Madrid on Monday.

La Liga wants to take the Girona vs. Barcelona game to the U.S. in January as part of its efforts to promote soccer and the league in North America. But the association has been against the plan, saying players should have been consulted about the idea in advance.

The association said the league has promised to provide a detailed description of the plans to play the game abroad, and that it will then make a decision with the players’ interests in mind.

Players a few weeks ago threatened a strike in case the idea of the game was not properly discussed.

Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets said Monday that players had not made up their minds about the game yet.

“We are seeking the best solution for players, fans and football,” he said during a news conference with Spain’s national team.

The league has made it clear the match is not mandatory, but is an opportunity for clubs wanting to make the trip across the Atlantic. La Liga and the clubs are expected to seek approval from Spain’s soccer federation in the next few days.

Small Catalan club Girona — in its second season in the top tier — last week said it was willing play the game because it saw it as 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’s drive away from Barcelona in northeastern Spain.

Girona said one of the issues being discussed was how to compensate the club’s fans as the team would be giving up a home game. 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.

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 across the globe during the European offseason in July and August.