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Soccer - Spanish players indignant over plans to stage matches in U.S

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MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish footballers are surprised and indignant that an agreement to stage regular season La Liga matches in the United States has been made without their consent, their union said on Wednesday.

La Liga’s organising body announced last week in partnership with multinational media, sports and entertainment group Relevent that it plans to hold Spanish top flight games in the U.S. in the future.

La Liga has not yet given details on when the first game across the Atlantic would take place, how many games per season would be involved, how they would be selected or whether it would compensate the loss of home advantage for teams involved.

In response, the Spanish Footballers Union (AFE) said it was holding a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the issue and added to the criticism which it made at the time of the announcement.

The AFE said that “captains and players” from La Liga sides would participate.

“The AFE and the players do not understand unilateral decisions,” said a statement published on Wednesday. It said the players were “surprised and indignant that their views were not taken into account in an agreement which affects them directly.”

“La Liga is distancing the fans from the players, which damages the spectacle and the essence of football,” it added.

“The players again feel they are marginalized from decision-making (even though) they are the fundamental actors and their opinions are essential for the growth of Spanish football.”

“The players demand that our opinions be heard and taken into account in any future negotiation or decision by La Liga which affects them.”

The AFE also demanded “balance and common sense” in decision-making and complained about the kickoff times for some La Liga games this season.

“The players are again being punished by the kick-off times of certain matches, which can damage their health because of the weather conditions or the lack of recovery time,” it said.

“The AFE points out that certain kick-off times can be harmful for everyone who is involved in the spectacle — players, fans, and referees, whose health can be endangered.”

(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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