27 Aug 2011

Serie A season delayed by strike

6:59 am on 27 August 2011

The opening weekend of Italy's Serie A football season has fallen victim to strike action by players after failure of a last-ditch bid to resolve a long-running dispute with clubs.

Players' union the AIC and clubs' union the LEGA are at odds over a new collective bargaining agreement.

The Serie A season had been due to get under way on Sunday.

The industrial action was confirmed by players' union president Damiano Tommasi after the clubs rejected the AIC's proposal of the signing of a temporary deal until June 2012.

There are two barriers to a new deal in Italy.

The main one concerns the 'solidarity tax' that players are required to pay.

Club owners want the players to pay the tax themselves, but while the players agree in principle, they do not want to be the only people in Italy to pay it and are asking for a new law to be created concerning the tax.

They also say that players in the middle of contract disputes must not be made to train apart from the main squad.

Italian sports minister Rocco Crimi gave his reaction to the impasse, declaring: "In the eyes of Italians this represents the most abnormal strike in the history of our country."

Reaction to the strike filled the Italian airwaves and social networking sites like Twitter, where one fan described players as "spoilt brats", while another wrote "shame on you".

Serie A is the second European league disrupted by industrial action this season after players in Spain's top two divisions went on strike last weekend.