MILAN - Serie A players agreed on Friday
to strike if a deal on a collective contract with the league is
not reached by November 30, throwing the Italian game back into
chaos after a September walkout was avoided.
The two parties have been talking for weeks over Serie A's
proposals to force unwanted players to train away from the first
team or accept a transfer, conditions the footballers' union
cannot agree to.
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"The players' association... will wait until November 30 to
announce the date of a matchday strike," the union said in a
Italian football federation chief Giancarlo Abete has tried to
mediate in the row but his suggestion that Serie A and the union
discuss a new collective contract without mentioning unwanted
players has been rejected by the league.
"The logic of the strike makes no sense," Serie A president
Maurizio Beretta told a hastily arranged news conference.
"I think we would have the time and the means to reach a
full agreement before November 30. However, you can't talk about
some points and not others."
The Serie A clubs' stance has angered the already furious
union, which believes it has made concessions in the collective
contract which will define the basic rights of players.
The existing contract expired in the close season.
Abete has said he will now try to use an independent
arbitration panel to solve the issue but, with the federation
struggling to defuse the row, it may escalate to the Italian
Olympic Committee (CONI) which presides over all sports.
"I have faith that before November 30 we can arrive at an
agreement on the collective contract. Good sense always
prevails," CONI president Gianni Petrucci told reporters.
The issue first came to a head in September but the strike
was postponed partly because of a lack of public support for the
union, given the negative image of millionaire players taking
industrial action in a time of general economic hardship.
Not all players are behind the latest move to strike but the
recent experience of those left out of the first team may have
strengthened the union's hand.
Juventus duo Fabio Grosso and Hasan Salihamidzic were
dropped from the first team after failing to agree moves away in
August but Juve's injuries have been so bad that the pair have
returned to action, leaving the club slightly red-faced.
Italy players Federico Marchetti and Antonio Cassano have
been dropped by Cagliari and Sampdoria for respectively asking
for a move and offending the club president.
Two arbitration panels are due to rule on whether their
suspensions are legal.
A hearing found in favour of Goran Pandev last season when
he was dropped by Lazio for demanding a move and he was allowed
to join Inter Milan on a free transfer.
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