Spain and Italy players strike over wage disputes

Posted on by SoccerPunter

Spanish league footballers will extend their strike over pay to the second day of the new season next weekend, the players’ professional association said on Monday.

“The strike will continue for the second day of the season,” Luis Gil, spokesman for the Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE), said after the latest negotiations at the AFE’s headquarters.

Spain’s top football clubs had been meeting with players to prevent the strike spreading to a second match day in the lucrative Spanish Primera Liga.

Elsewhere, the Italian players’ union (AIC) has threatened to call for a strike for the first weekend of the Italian Serie A season if players and clubs do not reach a compromise over a new collective labour agreement.

“The two sides remain very far from agreement but we are continuing to work” for a solution, Gil told reporters.

The vice-president of the Professional Football League (LFP), Francisco Catalan, added: “I think that something positive can come from today’s meeting,” without giving details.

Players in the first and second divisions — including stars such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo — went on strike on the first match day Saturday and delayed the season start for the first time in 27 years.

The AFE is demanding a wage guarantee and that players be allowed to break their contracts if they are not paid for three consecutive months, a proposal rejected by the league.

According to the AFE, 200 players in the top two divisions have not been fully paid by cash-strapped clubs, some in bankruptcy protection, and are owed a total of about 50 million euros ($72 million).

It is not clear if the league will try to squeeze missed matches into an already packed schedule or just scrap them.

“If we do not sign the new labour agreement, the first round of fixtures will be delayed,” said AIC president Damiano Tommasi following a fruitless meeting with club representatives in Milan on Tuesday.

The opening day of the Spanish season had to be called off at the weekend after players there went on strike in a dispute over unpaid salaries, but while strikes were mooted in Italy several times last season, they were never carried out.

“After a year of this, we cannot call this a threat,” added former Roma and Italy midfielder Tommasi. “The fact is we cannot start the new season without a new labour agreement.

“You will have to ask the League (Lega) what the chances are of us agreeing a deal.

“We want to start the season because it will mean that a collective labour agreement has been signed.”

Last year the AIC called a strike for the weekend of December 11 and 12, only to postpone it on December 9 after a verbal agreement was reached with the clubs.

However, that verbal agreement has never translated into a written one.

There are two major points of contention: players are refusing to agree to train alone if their club decides that they are no longer in their plans, and are also against clubs being allowed to settle the final year of the contract of any player they no longer want.

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