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La Liga - Footballers vote to strike in Spain

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La Liga - Footballers vote to strike in Spain

Post  1892NUFF on Fri Aug 12, 2011 5:14 am

The Spanish professional footballers' association has voted to strike for the first two matches of the new La Liga season over collective bargaining rights for wage protection.

Players want a larger wage guarantee fund for when clubs become insolvent - a problem that Spain's system has seen all-too frequently, with Levante and Hercules struggling to pay staff members in recent years and Real Zaragoza applying for administration this summer, which is a common occurrence particularly in the Segunda Division.

The AFE said that the 12 million euros owed to about 100 players last year had ballooned to about 50 million owed to 200 players.

Flanked by the likes of Iker Casillas, Xabi Alonso (both Real Madrid), Carles Puyol (Barca) and David Albelda (Valencia), AFE president Luis Rubiales announced that enough was enough for an issue that blights the smaller clubs in what is arguably football's top league.

"We are way behind all of Europe in this matter," Rubiales said. "AFE and the players from the first and second divisions have made the decision to call a strike for the first two matchdays of the season.

"The players have met with us and decided that 'enough is enough now'. There will be no league until a collective bargaining agreement is reached."

The LFP, Spain's football league governors, expressed their shock at the strike action.

"We adopted two historical changes to Spanish football that corresponded to the players requests," it said, referring to a financial self-regulation code for clubs and so-called "efforts" to protect a proportion of wages for players whose clubs are in administration.

"For this reason, the calling of a strike at a moment when fundamental steps forward are being taken is incomprehensible for the LFP," it added, insisting negotiations would continue.

In addition to Zaragoza, five more Liga sides are currently in administration - Racing Santander, Real Mallorca and the three promoted teams, Rayo Vallecano, Real Betis and Granada.

In the Segunda Division 12 of the 22 clubs were in administration last month.

A recent study by Barcelona University's accounting professor and football expert Jose Maria Gay showed a combined loss of 100 million euros between June 2009-10 among the 20 clubs in La Liga.

Total debt of the top-flight clubs was estimated at over double the overall revenue of 1.61 billion euros.

Spain's football system sees TV money in particular heavily skewed towards the top clubs, meaning smaller Liga clubs and those in lower divisions operate on small budgets and often struggle to stay afloat despite modest outlays on wages.

A separate row over the allocation of TV revenue saw a strike narrowly averted last season.

The new season is scheduled to start in 10 days, on Sunday August 21.

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