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Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish footballers’ association AFE, accompanied by 110 professional footballers, amongst others World Champions Iker Casillas and Carles Puyol, has announced that the footballers of the First and Second Division in Spain will strike in the two first rounds of the 2011/2012 season.


‘AFE and all footballers of the Primera y Segunda División have taken this decision firmly and unanimously. The League will not start until a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) has been signed’, explained Rubiales during a press conference in Madrid.


At the heart of the dispute is AFE's demand for a larger emergency fund to help players not being paid by clubs who are in financial administration. In 2010 twelve million euros ($17 million) was owed to about 100 players. And at the end of the 2010/2011 season that figure stood at almost 50 million owed to 200 players.


‘This is lamentable’, said Rubiales. ‘You cannot ask for more from these players. We do not want more money. We want that the clubs fulfill the contracts they have signed with the players, our contracts.’


AFE also demanded some protective measures that are commonplace in other European countries. Rubiales: ‘We have put forward proposals which exist in Holland, Germany, France and England which are preventative. In these countries if a club shows it can't pay its players the club doesn't compete. We have asked that players who are owed more than three months (wages) can break their contracts. It seemed like we had an agreement but it was left out. As it stands we are at the bottom of the pile in Europe.’


‘Enough is enough’, Rubiales continued. ‘This does not mean we are refusing to negotiate any more. We will do (so) for the good of the players and football in general.’


AFE president Rubiales was accompanied by 110 professional footballers, amongst others Casillas, Puyol, Xabi Alonso, Fernando Llorente and David Albelda. There was also support from footballers’ associations from France and Italy.


On behalf of FIFPro, president Leonardo Grosso was present at the press conference. FIFPro fully supports the Spanish footballers with their strike and their fight for their rights.