Spanish footballers strike – La Liga suspended

Spanish football set to be suspended after 16 May due to ongoing dispute with government

Atletico de Madrid's Sergio Leonel 'Kun' Aguero from Argentina, front, tries to kicks the ball  in front of Real Sociedad's  Alberto de la Bella, right, and Antoine Griezmann from France, center, during their Spanish La Liga soccer match at Anoeta stadium in San Sebastian northern,  Spain Sunday, Nov.21,  2010. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

Domestic competition in Spain looks set to be suspended for an indefinite period after 16 May, the Royal Spanish Football Federation have announced.

With an ongoing dispute with the government over several issues including most notably a new television rights deal yet to reach a satisfactory conclusion, the RFEF issued a detailed statement [in Spanish] on the eve of 6 May expressing dissatisfaction at its 4.55% allocation from the pools as well as revealing that they have been contacted by several associations representing players, referees and coaches regarding a strike.

“The board of directors of the RFEF announce the indefinite suspension of all competitions from May 16,” the statement read as reported by Sky.

“The association of Spanish footballers has informed us of its decision to call a strike the next dates of 16-17 of May and of an indefinite time.

A personal battle between the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president, Angel Maria Villar, and the La Liga head boss, Javier Tebas, is reportedly behind the indefinite strike in La Liga from 16 May due to discontentment over the new proposed TV rights deal.

The Spanish government recently approved a new royal decree to sell the TV rights collectively in order to increase the competitiveness of the tournament by addressing the huge gap that currently exists between Barcelona and Real Madrid, who negotiate their own lucrative deals, with the rest of the teams.

According to the new law the 90% of the total revenues will go to all of the clubs in La Liga – sharing half of that money equally between the 20 clubs, with the other half divided up according to criteria including recent performance and size.

Meanwhile, the 10% remaining will go to second division clubs, with 70% of that money being divided equally.

But even though most clubs had welcomed the new law in recent weeks, the Spanish Federation stated their disapproval at only receiving 4.55% of the revenue.

Furthermore, the RFEF states that they have the support of all the players, referees, managers and the local federations.

The strike has been called by the Spanish Footballers’ Association (Afe) which will receive just 0.5% of the share of revenues under the new regulation.

The Spanish federation and the Afe believe that they have been overshadowed in the negotiations between La Liga and the government and have threatened them with a strike which will see the last two final games of La Liga and as well the Copa del Rey final suspended.

The Spanish Football Federation demands a bigger part of the shares and competitions which previously were under their mandate and with new law will be under La Liga.

Meanwhile, Afe believes that the decree puts women’s football and clubs in the minor leagues – Segunda B and Third division- ahead of them.

La Liga have quickly responded to the call for a strike with an official statement, claiming “the decision taken by the RFEF is null and void by law” while they have taken “the corresponding legal actions” against them in defence of the rights and legitimate interests of the clubs.

The statement indicates that the battle could eventually finish in the courts but reports in Spain are already suggesting an agreement between the parties will be reached and the strike cancelled.

AS head editor Alfredo Relano says the strike is unlikely to happen and any harm will only be to the reputation of the Spanish competition caused by the personal battle.

“I see it as a final push from Ángel María Villar (RFEF president) and Luis Rubiales (of Spanish Players’ Union AFE), who have seen little in the development and the final copy of the new law over broadcasting rights,” Relano wrote in his daily column.

“I don’t think the strike will happen because it does not seem feasible and is without good reason. That’s right: it will be noise and some damage to the price of television rights. More advantage to the Premier League.”

Meanwhile, Marca suggests that the problem between the two presidents is that Villar, after 26 years in charge of the Spanish football federation, believes that everything belongs to him.

“Villar has ended up confusing the Spanish Football Federation with the living room of his home and with his personal interests and those of the ones who fully support him by interest or fear.”

Furtheremore, there are some suggestions in Spain that the new royal decree to sell the TV rights see Real Madrid and Barcelona earning as much as they do with their current deal — while the gap with the small teams is maintained.



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