Spain's top footballers go on strike

Start of La Liga and second division is pushed back as league and players fail to agree on a new contract.

    Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas was one of many players at the event where strike was declared [GALLO/GETTY] 

    Spanish first and second division players will go on strike for the first two weekends of the 2011/2012 league season, the players' union (AFE) said on Thursday.

    "We are unanimous and firm in our decision to call a strike," AFE president Luis Rubiales told a news conference.

    "The league will not start until a new agreement (between the league and the players) has been signed."

    At the heart of the dispute is the union's demand for a larger emergency fund to help players not being paid by clubs who are in financial administration.

    The La Liga and second division seasons are scheduled to start on the weekend of August 20-21.

    The AFE were supported by over 100 top flight footballers in a Madrid hotel where the event was held.

    Spanish internationals Iker Casillas and Carles Puyol were among the players and there were union representatives from France, Germany and Italy among others to lend their support.

    Not about more money

    Rubiales said the players had been negotiating with the Spanish football league (LFP) over a series of protective measures for players that are commonplace in other leagues in Europe but which Spanish players do not have.

    "It is lamentable. As it stands we are at the bottom of the pile in Europe," Rubiales said.

    "We don't want more money we want the clubs to honour the contracts they sign with their players.

    "We don't want palliative measures. 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.

    "We have asked that players who are owed more than three months (wages) can break their contracts. It seemed like we had an agreement but it was left out"

    AFE president Luis Rubiales

    "We have asked that players who are owed more than three months (wages) can break their contracts. It seemed like we had an agreement but it was left out."

    Rubiales said despite the lengthy negotiations, the LFP had imposed a new settlement at the beginning of August which the players rejected.

    "Enough is enough," he said.

    "This does not mean we are refusing to negotiate any more. We will do (so) for the good of the players and football in general.

    "But the league will not start until a new collective agreement is signed."

    SOURCE: Reuters


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