Barcelona regret controversy over separating men’s and women’s players on flight

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Barcelona expressed regrets over the decision to put the players on the men’s and women’s teams in different classes during their flight to the United States on Tuesday and said it will not happen again during the overseas tour.

The club promoted the tour as the first time both sides would travel together, with the men’s team playing three games as part of the International Champions Cup and the women’s team competing in a pair of friendlies.

But players on the men’s team travelled from Barcelona to Portland, Oregon, in first class while the players on the women’s team occupied economy seating on the Iberia Airlines charter flight.

“We regret that there has been a controversy because of a simple issue: When the club hired the charter flight, it was not expected that the women’s team would travel,” spokesman Josep Vives said. “There were no more seats available. [The women’s players] travelled in comfortable places, as they said themselves. Now in the internal flights, everyone will travel in first class.

“I think we must value the club’s commitment to women’s sports. We have professionalised the women’s team. We want to make them a top-level team around Europe. We have varying women’s teams [and] we are working for the equality in many areas. We believe that generating a controversy for an issue like this is trying to attack us.”

Barcelona released a series of promotional images from the flight via their website and social media accounts, including one of the captains of both teams posing in the first-class seating area.

But photos shared via the women’s team’s players’ accounts showed that they had been scattered around the economy section, leading to a number of complaints and questions from other social media users regarding how the separation could have occurred.

Striker Alexia Putellas told Mundo Deportivo that she understood why the arrangement was made.

“It was decided that we would travel after [the men’s team’s arrangements had been made],” Putellas said. “The club had made an effort to organise everything at practically the last minute.”

The teams were scheduled to train in Oregon and in Los Angeles for six days, with the women’s team departing the United States on July 29 and the men’s team staying until Aug. 4.