Serie A strike near after league rejects contract

Italy’s Serie A moved closer to a strike Wednesday after the

topflight clubs voted 18-2 against adopting a collective contract

signed by the players, increasing the possibility that Saturday’s

planned start of the season will be delayed.

The clubs are standing firm in their desire to make two changes

to the text.

Club officials want to change the wording of article 7 so that

coaches can force unwanted players to train away from the first

team and they also want an addition to article 4 stating that

players will pay a new solidarity tax that applies to high-wage

earners.

”The text signed by the players’ association can’t be signed if

those two points are not integrated,” Serie A president Maurizio

Beretta said.

The players announced earlier this month that they will strike

if a new collective contract is not signed before the season

opens.

Cagliari and Siena were the two clubs that voted in favor of the

contract.

After the vote, the Italian football federation postponed a

potentially decisive meeting to Thursday.

”At the moment the conditions are not right to play,” players’

association president Damiano Tommasi said, according to the ANSA

news agency. ”The league’s requests are (being used as an excuse).

The federation meeting was postponed but I don’t see what could

change.”

The conflict between the players and the league has been ongoing

since the last collective contract expired in June 2010.

The players set two strike dates during the first half of last

season, both of which were avoided with last-minute verbal

agreements.

Meanwhile, coaches’ association president Renzo Ulivieri chained

himself to the gates of the football federation to protest a move

allowing lower-level clubs to hire unlicensed coaches.

Serie A is due to start on Saturday with Fiorentina at Siena in

a Tuscan derby and defending champion AC Milan at Cagliari. On

Sunday, it’s: Napoli vs. Genoa; Atalanta vs. Cesena; Bologna vs.

Roma; Inter Milan vs. Lecce; Lazio vs. Chievo Verona; Novara vs.

Palermo; Parma vs. Catania; and Udinese vs. Juventus.

A strike by Spanish club players has already wiped out the

opening weekend of the Liga.

While there have been numerous other threats over the years, the

only time Serie A players went on strike was in March 1996. Among

the issues then was the Bosman ruling, which established the right

of players to switch clubs freely once their contracts expired, and

found that the strict limits on foreigners were illegal.