MILAN - The Serie A players' union on
Tuesday called a strike for matches on December 11 and 12, prompting
insults to be traded between the parties and throwing the
Italian game into more chaos.
The union, which announced a strike for September before
postponing the action to allow for more talks, is angry at
league demands that unwanted players train away from the first
team squads or accept a transfer even when under contract.
Last-ditch talks with Serie A and the Italian football federation in Rome failed to reach an agreement ahead of the
union's November 30 deadline.
"The strike has been called for December 11 and 12. We are very
sad because there was a willingness to find an agreement," union
vice president Leonardo Grosso told reporters, adding that they
would soon issue a statement confirming the strike.
"The league continued to ask to discuss the issue of players
being placed outside of the squad, which for us was case
The federation hoped the union would wait for an Olympic
Committee hearing on Wednesday before calling a strike, and like
so often in Serie A there may still be a twist in the tale.
Italian football has endured a match-fixing scandal, hooligan
problems and two failed European championship bids in recent
years, with decaying stadiums and low attendances adding to a
sense of apathy relieved only by sporadic on-field success.
Serie A players have gone on strike in the past over similar
issues, and the threat of games such as Juventus v Lazio being
called off now hangs over the league, although champions Inter
Milan will be away at the Club World Cup that weekend.
Serie A, in its first season as an independent body having
broken away from the Italian league, has been negotiating a new
collective contract with the union over basic players' rights.
The original contract expired in the close season without
any agreement, and the dispute has rumbled on ever since.
Some players such as AC Milan right-back and Italy World Cup
winner Massimo Oddo, who proclaimed the original strike, have
since said striking is a bad idea, but the union leadership has
carried on regardless.
Serie A president Maurizio Beretta, who still hopes a deal
will be struck, told reporters: "Today's meeting was incredible,
without precedence in history.
"The union refused to listen to the federation president's
intervention, which included the issue of players outside the
squad. At that point they got up from the table and left."
Media have criticised multi-millionaire players for
considering a strike during a time of economic hardship, but the
union can point to three cases that support their stance.
Juve's Fabio Grosso and Hasan Salihamidzic were dropped at
the start of the season for turning down transfers but an injury
crisis meant they were brought back.
Goran Pandev was banished by Lazio last term for demanding a
move but an arbitration panel ruled in his favour and he signed
for Inter on a free, a case that may have implications for
Sampdoria's Antonio Cassano and Cagliari's Federico Marchetti.
Cassano and Marchetti have both been dropped for
disciplinary reasons and arbitration hearings are planned soon.
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