Players’ strike threatens to delay Spanish season

Aug 12, 2011
Bill Mann

Manana, manana: Cesc faces slow start to life at Barca, if players’ union can’t negotiate a deal

If Cesc Fabregas is really on his way to Barcelona from Arsenal, it seems he can afford to put his feet up for a while. A players' strike looks set to delay the start of the Spanish league season, which had been due to commence on August 20-21.

The players' union, the Spanish Footballers' Association (AFE), is demanding a larger emergency fund for players whose clubs can't pay them because of financial problems. In addition, the union says 200 of its members are owed around £45m in unpaid wages by various clubs.

The AFE called a meeting of all La Liga and Segunda Division players earlier in the week and over 100 of them gathered in a Madrid hotel. Among those present were World Cup winners Iker Casillas and Carles Puyol as well as union representatives from the French, German and Dutch leagues.

Afterwards AFE president Luis Rubiales told reporters: "We are unanimous and firm in our decision to call a strike. The league will not start until a new agreement has been signed."

Pressed on why a strike was necessary, Rubiales replied: "We don't want more money, we want the clubs to honour the contracts they sign with their players... We have put forward proposals which exist in Holland, Germany, France and England which are preventative. In these countries if a club shows it can't pay its players the club doesn't compete."

While the AFE claims it is willing to keep negotiating with the league, it also stated its intention to boycott the opening two weekends of action. With a round of international matches on the weekend of September 3-4, this would mean La Liga starting on September 11, three weeks behind schedule.

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