Spanish soccer season delayed by strike
The start of the Spanish soccer league season will be delayed because league officials and player representatives failed on a last-minute deal Friday.
The Association of Spanish Football Players said the strike will go ahead after meetings with LFP counterparts stumbled.
Spanish players representing all 42 teams in the top two divisions backed the first work stoppage in 27 years after failing to sign a new collective bargaining agreement with improved salary guarantees.
The Spanish league — home to the world's top players in Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo — may only start in September after the AFE pledged to boycott the first two rounds due to the labour conflict.
The season had been scheduled to start this weekend with three-time defending champion Barcelona at Malaga and Real Madrid playing Athletic Bilbao.
"The games are clearly unrealizable," AFE said in a statement on its website.
Both parties plan to continue talks Saturday and Monday with next weekend's second round of games still under threat. AFE hasn't indicated if it will extend the strike beyond then with an international break meaning the domestic league may not start until Sept. 10.
When the postponed games would be replayed is uncertain with no free dates for rescheduling on the Spanish calendar before May.
The conflict is about wages as players look for guarantees with clubs owing up to 50 million euros ($72 million) in unpaid salaries to more than 200 players.
Spain's bankruptcy law is also a problem as it allows insolvent clubs to re-negotiate or delay paying player salaries — just like other outstanding debts — while under bankruptcy protection. Spanish legislation expected to pass through parliament next month would relegate any insolvent club into the third division, although that wouldn't go into effect until the end of this season.
Currently, there are six topflight clubs and a number of second-division clubs in bankruptcy protection.
Clubs involved in European competitions will continue playing with Villarreal facing a Champions League qualifying game next week and Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid all playing Europa League matches.
Barcelona's friendly against Napoli on Monday will also go ahead.