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PESSIMISM OVER ARGENTINE PLAYER STRIKE

The players, who first went on strike in May for ten days, are angry over unpaid wages and bonuses, claiming that the first and second division clubs owe them a total of $38 million.
The Argentine Football Association (AFA) are desperately trying to obtain loans to help the clubs pay the players but have so far drawn a blank.
“There’s no credit, there are no players and there’s no football,” said AFA president Julio Grondona. “All we can do now is work for the future.”
The players announced the latest stoppage on Tuesday, claiming the clubs had broken an agreement which had ended the original strike. The Apertura championship, the first of two league competitions in the Argentine season, is supposed to kick off at the weekend.
The clubs had promised to clear their debts in two instalments – to be paid in June and July – and the AFA had vowed to cough up if the clubs could not produce the cash. The deal was backed by the Labour Ministry.
MARCHI CLAIM
But Argentine Players’ Union (FAA) president Sergio Marchi claimed on Tuesday that only eight of the 20 first division clubs had even managed to pay June’s instalments.
“If the debt is not paid as agreed with the Labour Ministry, it’s very difficult that football will be played this weekend or the weekend after that,” said Marchi.
Marchi said the captains of the first division teams would meet next week and could vote to extend the stoppage to the Copa Mercosur, which also includes clubs from Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay.
“If the AFA does not get the money quickly and the union does not become more flexible, there won’t be football for a long time,” said Sergio Marconetto, general secretary of the Cordoba club Talleres. “The outlook is complicated.”
Fernando Marin, president of the Blanquiceleste company which administers Racing Club, said: “It’s not wrong to give some credit to football. The important thing is to determine whether the credit will be a short-term cure or a deep-reaching therapy to cure the illness.”
Some clubs have suggested fielding youth teams to get the championship under way but the companies which have bought television rights are not expected to accept this idea.
REUTERS