Barcelona's Laporta discusses salary cap

Aug 1, 2009 - 12:34 AM BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.(AP) -- The outgoing president of one of the world's most successful soccer clubs believes Major League Soccer's salary cap can serve as a model for other teams and leagues to control costs.

"There are interesting things that we have to study in Europe, such as a salary cap," FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta said Friday, one day before his team will meet the Los Angeles Galaxy in an exhibition at the Rose Bowl. "Maybe we have to establish some parameters for revenues and players' salaries but maybe not as strict as in MLS."

FC Barcelona became the first Spanish team to win Spain's first division, the nation's Copa del Rey and the European Champions' League in the same season this year. Only three other European clubs have won league, national cup and continental championships during the same season.

The game against the Galaxy is part of a three-city trip that will take FC Barcelona to Seattle to play Seattle Sounders FC on Wednesday night and to San Francisco for a game against Mexico's CD Guadalajara, also known as Chivas, on Aug. 8.

Laporta, whose term expires next year, said he's impressed with the development of American soccer.

"We are really surprised at the progress of football in the States," he said. "The level of football is getting better. We are sure that the position of the United States' national team and soccer in the States is progressing thanks to the professionals involved."

With the three-city tour, Laporta said he hopes to expand Barcelona's recognition and revenues.

"In our strategy in the States, we're trying to develop grass roots," Laporta said. "We're trying to get a franchise in MLS and to develop our image with campaigns in merchandising and marketing."

That strategy is part of a larger goal to maintain the club's character without massive spending for players.

"We know how to resist pressure, very huge pressure," Laporta said. "We have to respect parameters in order to guarantee the viability and the sustainability of our club."

Barcelona's only major acquisition has been forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Inter Milan for Samuel Eto'o. Ibrahimovic led Serie A with 25 goals last season.

"We invest a lot of money in players and salaries, but we try to invest with responsibility, with common sense," Laporta said. "In order to have our identity, we have to get our players on our youth teams on the first team."

One of the players who has made that transition is Argentine forward Lionel Messi, who led the Champions' League scoring with nine goals. Messi has scored 54 times in 109 games for Barcelona, including 38 goals in league and tournament play last season.

"For us, he's everything," Laporta said. "He is a genius. It's a privilege to have a player who comes from our youth teams become maybe one of the best players in history."

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