MILAN - Italian Serie A
footballers have hinted that they could go on
strike this month after a dispute over players' rights
The Italian Players Union (AIC) said the Serie A league has
still not signed an agreement reached with the players last year
after intense negotiations, during which strikes were twice
"The collective contract must be signed and it needs to be
done before the start of the championship," said Damiano
Tommasi, the new head of the AIC, in a television interview.
"It's difficult for the players to not go on to the pitch,
but it's necessary to have this in black and white," added
Tommasi, a former Roma and Italy midfielder who played at the
2002 World Cup.
"I've visited 90 percent of the teams' pre-season training
camps and there is unity among the players."
An old collective agreement expired at the end of the
2009/10 season and talks for its renewal dragged on for the
whole of last season.
The union was especially unhappy about clubs trying to force
players to move in the last year of their contracts.
The matter came to a head in September and December when
strikes were called off at the last minute, in the latter case
with only two days to spare.
A last-minute deal meant all players with first-team
contracts would be allowed to train with the main squad while
rules to avoid discrimination were agreed for unwanted players
who are put up for sale.
The AIC said it had signed the deal then but was still
waiting for the league to add its signature.
"I keep hearing them say that there what we're nearly there,
but that little bit that is missing on the League's part never
arrives," said Tommasi.
"Last season, we decided not to stop the championship while
it was still in progress but if we don't arrive at a conclusion
this time, it will not get under way."
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