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The professional footballers representing clubs in the various categories in Chile decided unanimously last Monday (18 July) to uphold the call to bring the Chilean league championship, scheduled to start this weekend, to a standstill, due to the retention of the promotion and relegation system and unpaid debts, mainly affecting the Deportes Ovalle and Deportes Linares clubs, both in the Second Division.

 

The meeting of the Chilean union, Sifup, took place with delegates present from most clubs, from Arica to Puerto Montt, and it started with a report on the meeting held with the Chilean Federation , ANFP, on Thursday last week, at which there was no substantial progress on the demands raised by the players.

It is worth noting that the decision to reduce the number of clubs relegated from the First Division to the First Division B to one and to do away with relegations to the Second Division has made the domestic championships less competitive, since the clubs, realising they are not under threat if they have a bad season, have drastically reduced the costs of their squads, making 120 players redundant in the two major divisions and 300 in the Second.

In the newspaper La Tercera two players explained the decision to go on strike.

David Pizarro explained that “there are two very important points, which are the debts and the relegation system in the First Division B and the Second Division. So we’re still as determined as we were at the last assembly. We’re going ahead with the strike, because there’s no agreement.”

Johnny Herrera, captain of Universidad de Chile: “It’s not easy to make a decision like this, but it’s the only way for a footballer to get some respect. I can’t understand how they’re going to sell football if it’s not competitive. Unless we do something to try to improve the situation, I can’t see who can help us. Having no relegations is not a valid option, in my opinion. This is a sad decision; we want to play.”

Pizarro, the captain of Santiago Wanderers, added: “There are some squads that have been threatened by their management, and on that they have our support. We oppose any form of pressure. The squads at San Felipe, Rangers and La Calera have been told not to join the strike or they could be in trouble”, he went on. And then he continued his criticism: “The threats are really sleazy. It’s just not acceptable. These people are amateurs. Enough of making threats. We’re not living in a dictatorship any more.”