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New bid to prevent Senegal soccer strike

(Reuters) Players have threatened to boycott the African Nations Cup later this month in neighbouring Mali if their bonuses for qualifying for the World Cup are not raised from 10 million CFA francs ($13,730) to 40 million CFA francs ($54,950) each.

“I will be going to France with other officials of the federation to meet the players there and have a serious discussions with them,” El hadj Malick Sy, president of Senegal’s Football Federation, said.

Sy said he was surprised by the strike call from Senegalese internationals, most of whom are based in France, the West African country’s former colonial ruler.

“Bonuses are discussed and agreed on before qualification, never afterwards,” he said.

“The players knew they were going to get that amount,” he said, adding that the 10 million CFA figure had been fixed in the presence of team captain Aliou Cisse and the side’s French coach Bruno Metsu.

Ferdinand Coly and Pape Sarr, who play for French first division leaders RC Lens, pledged their support for the strike on Thursday, giving the body until January 10 to make a decision.

“The ball is in the federation’s court,” Coly said. “The federation will earn a lot of money and it is only normal that we should get some of it. We are ready for a tug of war.”

Players’ spokesman Salif Diao had told a television news programme on Sunday that the federation had decided on the “derisory” 10 million CFA francs without their agreement.

“We reckon that compared to what they will get, and the sponsorship, we are worth more than that,” said Diao, a defender with French club Sedan.

Sy said he would not be renegotiating the qualification bonuses in France, but hoped to discuss payments for matches during the World Cup.

Sources said those bonuses were likely to outstrip previous payments thanks to funds expected from world soccer’s ruling body FIFA to prepare the squad for the tournament.

Players have already received 10 million CFA francs each from Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade for clinching the country’s first appearance at the World Cup finals.