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Barcelona players understand importance of match in United States - Josep Vives

With reports that Girona are set to face Barcelona in Miami this coming January, the FC crew share their varying opinions on La Liga coming to the U.S.
Gab Marcotti details how playing in the United States can benefit all La Liga clubs, not just headline acts Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Barcelona's players understand the club's "need" to play January's league fixture against Girona in the United States and will support the game being moved to Miami if it's cleared by the relevant parties, says Barcelona representative Josep Vives.

La Liga, Barca and Girona sent a letter to the Spanish Football Federation [RFEF] on Monday requesting permission for the Catalan derby, originally scheduled for the Estadi Montilivi, to be moved to Miami's Hard Rock Stadium.

In addition to the RFEF, the United States Soccer Federation, UEFA, CONCACAF and FIFA would also have to give the green light to move the match outside of Spain.

On Wednesday, sources told ESPN that the government of Spain has requested that La Liga and the parties involved take time to reflect amid reported political concerns about two Catalan clubs playing their derby outside Spain. 

"The players understand the club's position," Barca spokesman Josep Vives said on Wednesday. "They understand the club's vocation. They're aware of not just Barca's needs, but of La Liga's, too, [to play this game].

"We don't just play in Camp Nou anymore, or in the Santiago Bernabeu, we play around the world. Fans are spread across the globe. We believe that contact with the American market, through this game, is important. The players understand that."

The plans have been met with contempt by the Association of Spanish Footballers [AFE], who threatened a strike when La Liga first announced the idea last month. However, Vives said the main issue was not the relocation of matches in the future, but the lack of information offered to the players before La Liga revealed their plans.

"Talking about the AFE, not Barcelona, the players did complain at first," he added. "But that was because they weren't informed. As a club, we have sat down with our players and corrected the situation.

"We talked, we gave them details, we argued [why it's a good idea to play in Miami]. They were annoyed that they weren't given all the information at first, but that stage has passed now thanks to talking and sharing details."

Coach Ernesto Valverde is also fine with the plans, despite the fact that a trip to Miami would be squeezed between two midweek Copa del Rey games.

"It's a decision that couldn't have been made without having spoken with [Valverde]," Vives said. "We evaluated the pros and cons, like the possible Copa games, but we all felt it was more positive than not.

"But what happens now is not in our hands. We are optimistic [it will happen], but we want it to happen with the blessing of everyone. Our position is clear."

Vives also knocked back concerns about the lack of players currently being supplied to the Spain squad. Sergio Busquets was the only Barca player who featured in La Roja's 6-0 win against Croatia on Tuesday.

"As a club, we're not at all worried about that statistic," he said. "What concerns us is that the academy works well and keeps providing players for Barca B and the first team. And we're optimistic in that sense."

The situation surrounding Valverde's contract was also broached, with the coach into the final 12 months of a two-year deal -- although there is an option for a third year.

"We're delighted with [Valverde] but we won't speak about contract details in public," Vives said. "We don't set timeframes on things like this, they just add pressure, but when it's time [to talk about a renewal], it will be done with discretion."

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