Spanish footballers agree to call off strike

Barcelona and Real Madrid will soon be in action after players and league finally reach an agreement over owed wages.

    Pep Guardiola and Barcelona will be able to kick-off their campaign to retain the title [GALLO/GETTY] 

    The Spanish football season will get under way on Saturday after players and league officials reached a deal to end a strike that had postponed the opening round of games in the top two divisions.

    An agreement was reached on Thursday after the players' union (AFE) and league returned to meet again after talks that had started Wednesday afternoon and dragged late into the night.

    "The strike committee of the AFE and the Professional Football League reached an agreement that guarantees footballers' salaries by various means," the AFE said in a statement.

    "The strike planned for Friday August 26, Saturday 27, Sunday 28 and Monday 29 is called off."

    The AFE called off the strike after the league guaranteed payment of $72 million owed to more than 200 players in back wages and also agreed to allow players to be released from their contracts if wages were not paid.

    In the latter case, if wages are not paid for three months, players have the right to terminate their contract and sign for another club.

    "We've reached a deal that we believe is completely satisfactory," AFE head Luis Rubiales said.

    It was the first industrial action by players in Spain since 1984.

    Football will officially get under way on Friday with a second-division match between Girona and Elche. First-division play begins Saturday when Sporting Gijon face Real Sociedad, with Real Madrid playing at Zaragoza on Sunday.

    Three-time defending Spanish champions Barcelona play Villarreal on Monday, as they play FC Porto in the European Supercup in Monaco on Friday.

    Players in the first and second divisions - including stars such as Lionel  Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo - went on strike on the first match day last Saturday.

    The strike delayed the start of the league for first time in 27 years.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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