Spain’s professional footballers go on strike

August 19th, 2011 - 7:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Bilbao, Aug 19 (IANS) Spain’s professional footballers went on strike from Friday after talks between players union (AFE) and Spanish Football League (LFP) broke down with no agreement having been reached over the question of unpaid debts to players.

Xinhua reported that seven clubs in Spain’s Primera Liga and Second Division owe a total of over 55 million euros in unpaid wages to players, with recently promoted Betis owing over 22 million and Zaragoza owing over 10 million.

Athletic Bilbao defender Mikel San Jose confirmed that players were going on strike this weekend rather than playing the opening round of matches in the domestic league season.

Speaking after his side’s Europa League game at home to Turkish side Trabzonspor, San Jose, a member of the Spain Under-21 side that was crowned European Champions this summer, said that the measure was an example of solidarity with footballers who were owed money by their clubs.

Zaragoza’s situation is surprising given that the club this week spent a reported 8.5 million euros on former Benfica goalkeeper, Roberto, rather than clearing debts to its players.

“It’s clear that the situation of Spanish football is at the limit and now the players have united to do something about the situation,” San Jose told Xinhua.

The problem of unpaid wages is widespread in Spain’s Second Division B and Third Division, but as well as Zaragoza and Betis, Racing Santander (8 million), Rayo (3.5 million), Hercules (6 million), Cordoba (2 million) and Recreativo Huelva (3.4 million) all owe large amount to current and former players.

The AFE is asking for several measures: a collective agreement between clubs and players, the establishment of a find to help players who have not been paid and for clubs that don’t pay to be punished by having points ducted or relegated as happens in England and Germany.

With the first round of games certain to be postponed, the AFE and LFP will hold a series of meetings over the coming days to try and prevent the action continuing into a second week.

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