Italian footballers plan strike

Issue 

On September 10, the players of the Serie A — Italy's top football league — declared they would strike on September 25 and 26.

AC Milan defender Massimo Oddo, speaking on behalf of the Italian Players' Association (AIC) and the captains of all 20 Serie A clubs, made the declaration as a dispute over the renewal of the collective agreement for the game's top players intensifies.

Serie A is trying to replace the old collective contract — which ran out on June 30 — with one that strips players’ rights in order to maximise profits for football clubs and their owners.

The new proposals would allow clubs to force a player in the final year of his contract to accept a transfer if a new club offers him a similar contract. Transferring players before their contracts are out will attract transfer fees, bringing further profits to clubs.

Salaries are also a bone of contention. Serie A has proposed “flexible contracts”, with lower salaries that could be "topped up" only if a team reached certain, ill-defined, targets.

The move to strip players of rights and income is hardly surprising. Serie A recently broke away from the rest of the Italian league to try to maximise profits — particularly through television rights — as the English Premier League did in 1992.

Oddo said Serie A had continually refused to include players in negotiations, and had presented the new agreement as a fait accompli. Most players only heard of the proposed new clauses when they were published in the newspapers.

“We players are fed up of being treated like objects and not human beings”, said Oddo. “We are talking about human rights, such as being denied the right to do other activities or work rights.”

Negotiations are ongoing, but on September 14 AIC chief Sergio Campana insisted the strike would go ahead.