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Two weeks away from the start of the Bolivian League's closing tournament, the Bolivian footballers' union (Futbolistas Agremiados de Bolivia, Fabol) has warned that it will not start that tournament unless its members' wages are paid up to date.

David Paniagua, Fabol's legal adviser, made this clear yesterday, Monday 5 January: "We shall not allow a new tournament to begin while various clubs are still owing wages and there is still no visible prospect of a solution."

Fabol Executive Secretary Milton Melgar, while emphasizing that negotiating the settlement of payments in arrears was complicated, said "What we want most of all is that the championship should commence normally. Let's hope we won't see the same thing as happened with the last tournament".

Among the "most worrying" cases are those of Sport Boys de Warnes and Real Potosí. It is known that the Warnes players have not been paid their wages for more than four months.

Fabol holds the League and Federation responsible for accepting "that anyone can be a club director without imposing the requirements established in FIFA regulations so that clubs can be run as proper institutions", he explained.

"Various players are in Santa Cruz in the hope of collecting their salaries that are four months in arrears and no one has made any statement. Others (such as Sergio Galarza) have been told that their wages would be reduced, but they have not been paid for the work they have done", Paniagua pointed out.

The Warnes case is not the only one. The footballers' legal representative also referred to the situation of the players of Real Potosí and Universitario de Pando who also have economic problems.

"There are several clubs in debt, and we have made it clear to their managers that the championship will not be permitted to start", he reiterated.

Paniagua said that in the case of the Pandinos the conditions required by a professional team to carry on their daily work do not exist.

"The players wash their own kit, nor is there a field doctor, for all the attention they get is from a dentist, which is not the same thing. What professional football are we talking about? Things can't go on this way", he stressed.

Paniagua added that on 7 January next FABOL would be meeting the directors of the League to analyse various topics, in particular the bad times being suffered by the Sport Boys team. They should begin work on Monday, but because of non-payment of their salaries the players have decided not to answer the call.

Hormando Vaca Diez, League Secretary General, said yesterday that the League would solve the clubs' wage indebtedness in order that the closing tournament could begin, though it was put at risk yesterday by Fabol's threat of a stoppage.

"This is the same topic every year, it is a fact that there are debts, but there is time to solve the different cases of the clubs", said Diez.

The closing competition is scheduled to start next Saturday, 17 January. The League is planning to conclude the championship on 17 May in order to enable the national team to have at least three weeks' work before playing in the Copa América in Chile in June. If Fabol delays the beginning of the championship it will have to be extended, adversely affecting the timetable.

 

From Pagina Siete, Bolivia