Atlético fans will have to wait at least one more week before they can watch their club kick off the 2011/12 league campaign.
The AFE (Spanish Professional Footballers’ Union) and the LFP (Spanish Professional Football League) failed to reach an agreement Friday in their dispute over unpaid players’ wages, so all week one matches have been cancelled as the players will proceed with their planned strike.
The players’ union wants more guarantees from the league that footballers at clubs under financial administration will receive compensation.
According to the AFE, roughly €50 million is owed to over 200 players in the first and second divisions of Spain.
The players have proposed to the league an emergency fund to cover wages in the event that a club becomes insolvent and is unable to meet payroll.
LFP officials initially agreed to the idea, but only offered to put up €10 million a year, an amount well short of what the AFE would deem acceptable.
“This is not about making more money,” AFE president José Luis Rubiales said.
“We are not demanding more, we are demanding only that players get paid what it says in their contracts.”
The strike has been called for the first two weeks of fixtures, but it is unclear if an agreement will be reached before the second round of games.
Guardian reporter Sid Lowe wrote on Friday, the strike “may be extended further: there has been talk of an indefinite stoppage. There have been many strike threats, including two last season alone. The surprise is that this one will go ahead.
“For the first time in 27 years, a players’ strike would happen in Spain.”
What this means for Atleti is that their match against Real Sociedad, scheduled for this upcoming Monday, will likely be pushed back to the Christmas Break.
The strike could be a blessing in disguise for los Rojiblancos though, as the team awaits the presentation of latest signing Radamel Falcao.
The striker will now almost certainly be available to head coach Gregorio Manzano for the league opener, which could take place on Sunday the 28th against Osasuna at the Vicente Calderón; should the AFE and LFP work out their differences before then.
The Atleti manager will be happy to take a well-rested squad to Portugal for Thursday’s Europa League play-off second leg match against Vitória.
Let us know how you feel about the strike. Do you think the players are justified in sitting out this weekend?