The start of the new Serie A season last weekend was postponed due to a strike of all footballers. Damiano Tommasi (president of the players’ association AIC) and Gianluigi Buffon (goalkeeper of Juventus and the Italian national team) defend the strike action.
The AIC is concerned about clubs forcing players to move in the last year of their contracts and forcing unwanted players to train separately. The Lega (the clubs) want to insert a clause confirming players will pay a new solidarity tax announced by the Italian government this month on all workers earning over EUR 90,000 a month.
‘We footballers start with something of a handicap,’ said Tommasi, ‘namely that we belong to a group of privileged people who are in the wrong when we put forward a demand.'
‘We have decided to take this action because we have had no collective agreement for a year and a half. It was probably better not to have started last season or to have stopped earlier. We didn’t do this then because we had faith in our negotiation partner who started talks that were completed in December 2010.'
‘I am convinced, and this is the opinion of many people, that the Lega does not want a collective labour agreement even though the footballers do want it.'
‘Why strike on the first day of the season? We simply cannot permit ourselves to start a championship without having a collective labour agreement that isn’t just promised but is actually signed.'
‘There has been so much talk about the solidarity contribution, but it seems as if the government has removed this problem. This is, in fact, a non-existent problem. It is an attack on the players in order to put them in a bad light in the media. It all started with comments, including some from politicians, with an incorrect basis, namely that the footballers had turned against the solidarity contribution; but in reality not a single footballer has ever protested about it.'
‘The moment when footballers put forward their demands is always the wrong moment. It amazes me that the clubs place the emphasis on the crisis moment, while according to them the core of the agreement is that we won’t allow teams to have 30-40 players...’
Gianluigi Buffon, goalkeeper of Juventus and Italy, agrees with Tommasi when he talks about Article 7 concerning the trainer who decides whether players who will not play should train separately from the rest of the players.
‘We have reached a stalemate because of a problem that symbolises the impotence of some managers. If you have 30 or 40 players, that means that you haven’t been able to manage the situation.’
Tommasi: ‘What will have to happen so that we play the second day? Common sense will have to reign in the Lega.’
'I have the distinct impression that 15 days will not be enough. We may need months. The Lega is clearly split. They’ve been saying no for a year and a half. The players are disappointed not to be playing but it’s not down to a question of finance or because of a whim. For professionals it’s just right to begin a season with a signed collective agreement.’
‘I hope that play will take place, reaching an agreement is not 'that' difficult,’ said Buffon. ‘Some actions don’t do this professional group much good, but I’ve been here since ‘95: the footballer has made large strides forward; the footballer has improved, but not the image people have of him.’
- Published: 31 August 2011