Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Strike Two?

Not long after a referee strike in Scotland, it looks like there will be no action in Italy’s top league in two weekends from now.

This time, rather than the officials going on strike, it’ll be the players!

That’s right – the Italian players union (or the Associazione Calciatore Italiana if you want to get fancy) has walked out of talks with the Italian Football Federation (Lega Calcio, again, if you want to be fancy) as the two sides try to hash out a new collective bargaining agreement.

Doesn’t it seem like everyone is trying to crank out a new CBA these days, and everyone is having a hard time doing so?!

The current CBA ran out before this season started and the two sides have been trying to get a new one in place ever since, to no avail. A possible strike was avoided in September when they decided to try once again to get a deal reached…which clearly has not gone well.

Here’s what seems to be the main sticking point in negotiations (via Yahoo! Eurosport): The league wants teams to be able to force unwanted players to train away from the first team or accept a move to an ‘equivalent’ club. A prime example of this happened with Juventus defender Fabio Grosso this year – he refused a move in the off-season and was then dropped from the team. Fortunately for him, injuries to his club allowed for his return.

The players think that type of an agreement would be unfair to them, and so they’ll sit out for a weekend, which seems to be the way it goes over in that part of the world!

AIC Vice-President Leonardo Grosso tells the Associated Press:

“The decision to strike comes from the repeated refusal of the League to accept the AIC’s proposals, only discuss six of the eight points and exclude those that concern training away from the team and forced transfers. We are bound by the decision of the AIC executive that a strike would take place on December 11 and 12 if we couldn’t find an accord.”

Italian Football League president Maurizio Beretta is hitting out at the players, calling their move to strike “irresponsible” and “without reason.” He tells the AP:

“I am stunned by the AIC’s decision to walk away from the negotiating table while (Italian Football Federation president Giancarlo) Abete was showing the draft proposal prepared by the Football Association. It is a day without precedent.”

While this strike action will only affect one weekend of the season, it’s a big step to take for the players to actually sit out. It’s not like the situation in Scotland, where the league can just bring in a handful of replacements and everything will be fine.

The relationship between the union and the Lega Calcio could be dealt a major blow here, but maybe this is something that has to happen before an agreement can be reached.

As for the main issue between the two sides – it seems to me like the league is trying to circumvent the Bosman Ruling a little bit. That’s the case that gave players the freedom to leave a club for nothing at the end of a contract. With that in mind, forcing players to change teams in the final year of their deal, while they can still get something for them, just doesn’t seem right. Burying a player for refusing a move seems entirely unethical.

The two sides meet with the Italian Olympic Committee later on today, but it looks like a strike is in the cards!

Dear Soccer: Thank you for all of the awesome blog material over the past couple of weeks, and for the blog material still to come.

Love,

Kerrzy

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