Strike – Serie A to come to a halt

by Richard Chambers

The AIC (Italian Footballer’s Association) today announced plans to strike on the weekend of September 25-26 to protest plans by the presidents of Serie A’s clubs to limit the discretion of players in transfer dealings.

The statement, delivered by Milan’s Massimo Oddo, stated ‘The AIC, in accordance with the players of Serie A, has decided not to take to the field for the fifth round of matches of the Serie A season on September 25th and 26th in protest at the introduction of the new contractual rules.’

The proposal put forward by Serie A’s clubs stipulates that a player in the final year of his contract must accept a transfer negotiated by his club to a club of similar stature if he is assured the same remuneration at the club to which he is to be transferred. The plan, supported by the league itself, was formulated following a bid from AC Milan for Juventus’ full-back Fabio Grosso. Grosso’s decision to decline the move provoked an angry reaction from the boards of Serie A’s top clubs. Roma’s Julio Baptista is also said to have declined numerous offers having been offered to clubs by Roma’s President Rosella Sensi.

The AIC has bemoaned the attitudes of the clubs, arguing that the move violates player’s rights and reduces Serie A’s stars, in the words of Oddo, to ‘simple objects’.

Oddo’s news conference, at which he appeared alongside AC Milan teammates Clarence Seedorf and Gennaro Gattuso as well as Internazionale’s Javier Zanetti amongst others, has been described by Maurizio Beretta, the Serie A President, as ‘extreme’. Beretta continued, adding that the strike was akin to ‘coming to the table with a loaded gun and the bullet in the barrel’ and criticised the AIC for being rash in ordering the strike.

The strike will affect all Serie A fixtures on the 25th and 26th of September, most notably the highly anticipated meeting of reigning champions Internazionale and AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico.

Many hope that the proposed action by the players may yet be avoided. Roma coach Claudio Ranieri perhaps speaking for everyone connected with Italian football when he suggested that “the parties’ intelligence prevails so this doesn’t end in a strike”.

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