Serie A

Italian FA still confident of avoiding strike

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Italian Football Federation president Giancarlo Abete is confident that a Serie A players' strike can still be avoided.

"There is time to avoid the strike and we remain confident," Abete said Wednesday, a day after the Italian Players' Association declared a strike for the weekend of Dec. 11-12.

The union is refusing to accept a proposal that clubs be allowed to force unwanted players to train away from the first team or accept a transfer.

The two parties reached an agreement in September to avoid a strike declared for Sept. 24-25. But the players' association warned that if a new contract was not settled by Nov. 30 the strike would go ahead.

On Tuesday, players' association president Sergio Campana walked out on talks with the league over a new collective bargaining agreement.

The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) high court has scheduled hearings with the players' association and the Serie A later Wednesday.

CONI oversees all sports in Italy.

"We will await the outcome of their view, after which we will resume (negotiations) based on high court's reflections," Abete said.

Meanwhile, the strike has prompted criticism from many sectors in Italy.

"The right to strike is something too serious to be confused with this (protest) between millionaires," said Italy's minister for youth policies, Giorgia Meloni, according to the ANSA news agency. "I would ask them, out of respect for real workers, to refrain from inappropriate use of the term 'strike."'

Napoli's 35-year-old forward Cristiano Lucarelli responded that it is not a real strike, because the matches will be made up at a later date and therefore TV revenue will not be lost.

"We're fighting for our rights, not for money," said Lucarelli, a member of the players' association board. "I want to remind everyone that the union represents 2,800 players, not just 100 multimillionaires.

"I've played in every division of football, from semi-pro leagues on up to Serie A and I know the difficulties of players in the minor leagues who get 1,100 euros ($1,400) per month and often don't get paid for long stretches. We footballers are fortunate, but we're still workers with the same rights and freedoms as everyone else, from the multimillionaire down to small wage earners."

Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini doesn't support the strike.

"Fans' passion is the basis of this sport and I hope that the sides agree to avoid stopping the season," Chiellini said on his Web site.

AC Milan vice president Adriano Galliani dismissed speculation that clubs could play with their youth teams during the strike.

"It would be crazy, and none of us has ever thought about it," Galliani said

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