Senegal’s soccer strike threat

(Reuters) Players’ spokesman Salif Diao told the West African country’s television news the Football Federation had decided to award each player a “derisory” 10 million CFA francs ($13,500) without the players’ agreement.

“Today the federation agreed on a bonus without our agreement. We reckon that compared to what they will get, and the sponsorship, we are worth more than that,” said Diao, a defender with top-flight French club Sedan.

“If this problem is not resolved, the public should not expect us to appear at the African Nations Cup.”

Players have already received 10m CFA francs each from Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade for snatching the country’s first ever spot at the World Cup finals, to be staged in Korea and Japan in 2002.

Diao said members of the squad, who are all based in Europe, had encountered problems getting leave from their foreign clubs to return for national duty.

“There are some players whose clubs are beginning to pay them less because they have been selected [for the national side],” he said. “The federation must live up to its responsibilities.”

But Sports Minister Joseph Ndong insisted the bonus had been agreed on in advance and was not negotiable.

“The problem is simply agreeing on the 10 million which had indeed been agreed on before qualification. Now they [the players] consider that is too little,” Ndong said.

“We must avoid getting into raising bids.”

Ndong said he would talk to the players to settle the issue before the continental tournament starts in neighbouring Mali on January 19.