Tuesday, August 16, 2011

(The Other) Football Strike

Now that the NFL has wrapped up a long-winded work stoppage, it looks like it’s time for the other football to get in on the action!

Players in both Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A are threatening strike action over two very different issues, with the regular season set to open in both leagues over the next two weekends. In Spain, the dispute is over money, while Italy’s impending work stoppage is an old fight that has to do with player rights.

Let’s start out in La Liga, where the start of the season is being threatened by an issue that really speaks to the financial climate of the last few years, and what’s projected for the near future: ESPN reports the players want something in place so that they still get paid if a club goes into administration.

I’m not sure how often clubs in Spain are going under these days, but reports say over $5.6-million worth of player wages went unpaid in the Segunda Division last year until another strike threat led to an agreement being reached. A Different League writer David Redshaw says there’s a big meeting on Wednesday where the two sides will try to hash out a deal, though there isn’t a whole lot of optimism that it’ll get done.

Wednesday also happens to be the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Nou Camp…which is probably something you should PVR if you’re worried about the season not starting on time!

Over in Italy’s Serie A, they’re dealing with a completely different problem: the rights of first team players who become unwanted by their clubs.

A collective bargaining agreement between the players and the owners expired last summer and strikes were narrowly avoided twice during the season while the two sides tried to work something out. The main sticking point is a proposal that would give clubs the right to make an unwanted player train away from the first team or accept a transfer to another club.

La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that the league’s 20 captains have all signed a letter stating that they will go on strike on August 27th, the first day of the season, unless a settlement is reached before then.

In response to that, Serie A president Maurizio Beretta said they wouldn’t be bowing down to the players on this one, adding this gem of a quote that surely stoked the fire:

“The strike threat by the players is a serious and insensitive act, especially considering the general situation in the country. We mustn’t forget that we are talking about 800 players whose average wage is over one million euros per year.”

When the league starts talking like that, you know you’re in for a good fight!

The problems in soccer don’t end there either – things could get really interesting between The European Club Association and the sport’s World/European governing bodies.

Bloomberg notes that if the current memorandum of understanding between the ECA, FIFA and UEFA is allowed to expire in 2014, Europe’s top clubs will no longer be legally bound to play in the Champions League or release their players for international duty.

Tariq Panja writes that at a time when FIFA is in shambles (over a third of its executive board has been suspended or accused of wrongdoing in the past nine months), there are disputes over the number of international matches in a year, who pays for player insurance and TV contracts.

And you thought the other football was bad!

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