Girona accept proposal for La Liga match against Barcelona in the United States
Girona have accepted a proposal to play a regular-season game against Barcelona in the United States as part of La Liga's goal of promoting football and the league in North America.
The small Catalan club said on Thursday they are working with the league and Barcelona to finalise details of the proposed game, which has attracted criticism from Spain's players' association and some clubs and fans.
The league last month announced a plan to play a match in the U.S. as part of a new 15-year partnership with sports and entertainment group Relevent. It 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 they accepted the proposal because they see a "great opportunity for expansion" for the club and the city.
The league said one of the issues being discussed is how to compensate Girona's fans as the team would be relinquishing a home game in La Liga. The club said they would try to offer several options for members so they would not feel at a disadvantage.
And according to a report in Spanish newspaper AS on Thursday, Girona will receive €4.5 million ($5.2 million) for the game, while 1,500 fans will be given free air travel to Miami.
Five thousand Girona fans will also be given free tickets to Girona's game at Barca at the Nou Camp on Sept. 23, according to the report.
Meanwhile, San Antonio Spurs' Spanish basketball player Pau Gasol has thrown his support in for La Liga's plans, saying the idea "makes sense" to him.
"To me the internationalisation of La Liga and playing a game in the United States is an interesting idea and one that should be taken seriously," Gasol said at a presentation of his autobiography in Barcelona on Thursday.
"I don't know if it distorts the competition but I think there must be a long-term plan and fans need to be compensated.
"The NBA has been organising games outside of the U.S. for several years, I played in Mexico two years ago and they play two games in London each year and there's no controversy because it's the decision of the league.
"In football's case it's an expansion strategy. It's the most important market of the world and it makes sense if the players and clubs see it like this. It's a break with tradition, but the world is more globalised now."
Barcelona spokesman Josep Vives said on Wednesday that playing a game in the States "benefits everyone."
"The date hasn't been set, it's not confirmed, but the club believes the arrangement is strategic," Vives told reporters.
"It benefits everyone in every sense, everyone can get rich from this, from the clubs to the players to the sponsors."
The clubs and La Liga are expected to seek approval from Spain's football federation in the next few days.