Italy’s Serie A action will not kick off this weekend as scheduled because the league and the players have failed to sign a new collective bargaining agreement.
The Italian Players’ Association president, Damiano Tommasi, announced that the footballers are going on strike on Friday.
The old bargaining agreement expired at the end of the 2009/10 season, with talks for its renewal continuing throughout last season and the whole of summer.
“We tried right up until the end, but all the attempts were in vain,” Tommasi told AP news agency.
There are two main clauses the players are dissatisfied with. The first, allows the clubs to force unwanted players to train away from the first team, while the second makes the footballers pay a new government solidarity tax that applies to high-wage earners.
The Italian Football Federation has issued a statement confirming the cancellation of the games.
“Following the decision by the players to strike, after the Lega Serie A and the AIC did not sign the collective agreement, the first round of Serie A games for the 2011-12 campaign will be postponed to a later date, which will be chosen by the league,” the statement said.
The Federation’s president, Giancarlo Abete, who acted as mediator throughout talks, fears the strike may last longer than one match day.
“The hypothesis of further strikes is one of the problems that exists. The risk is there for the next round of games,” he said.
By organizing a strike the Italian players have followed the footsteps of their colleagues from Spain, where the fans saw no football on the opening weekend.
The Spanish La Liga reached a deal with the footballers on Thursday, which ensured the second round will go ahead this Saturday and Sunday.