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Barcelona want to help soccer grow in United States - president Josep Maria Bartomeu

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu believes the club are working hard to build their brand in the United States and help improve the popularity of the sport.
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LOS ANGELES -- Barcelona will continue to target the United States market and want to promote the growth of football in the country, particularly in the women's game, president Josep Maria Bartomeu told ESPN FC.

Barca, who have a base in New York, partnerships with universities and a number of academies in North America, are touring the U.S. as part of the International Champions Cup for a second successive summer.

"It is a key market for us," Bartomeu said. "In the U.S. football, more and more, is a sport that is more inside society. People are starting to watch games.

"And Barca, we want to help [it grow], coming here to promote football but also coming here to learn from competition, because this is an exchange of information and an exchange of knowledge.

"Other markets are important for us, like China and Japan, but the U.S is very important. I think football itself, men's and women's, is more and more on television, which is important."

One of the objectives of Barca's tour has been to promote the women's game, and Bartomeu said the club still plans to launch a franchised side in California to join the National Women's Soccer League.

"We're working on it," the president said. "We're ambitious and we want to support women's sport -- so why not, in the coming years, have a franchise in the U.S?

"It's a very nice and real possibility to be in this major league. It's a very good league, a very good competition, very good players. Why not have a team in Europe and a team in the U.S.?

"We would like California because we know there are a lot of football fans in California. It will help the women's sport itself, but it will also help Barca to be closer to the fans."

While Barca continue to invest in the growth of their women's teams, other major European clubs are lagging behind. Manchester United will have a side playing in the English league for the first time next season, but Real Madrid still do not have one.

"I don't know what Madrid are doing," Bartomeu added. "Probably in their plans they have it.

"We decided a few years ago to have a professional team and we are very happy because we are doing well in competition in Spain and in Europe. We are, I think, levelling our brand with women."

The addition of a Madrid side would bring the Clasico, the world's most-watched fixture in men's club football, into the women's game.

"The Clasico is, for me, the best match in the world," Bartomeu said. "It's incredible how well followed it is, how much passion and emotion it represents.

"Why not, in the future, have all big European clubs with a women's team? I would suggest Real Madrid do it because it would help football itself.

"Football is a global sport and it should be practised by women and men at the same time."

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