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Spanish football strike still on: what is it about?

The RFEF and players union remain defiant, with the league and Spanish government on the other side. What are the key issues in the strike? Actually, it's more personalities than anything else.

El Madrigal could look like this on Sunday
El Madrigal could look like this on Sunday
siempre riquelme

Time is getting short to avoid a work stoppage that will shut down the three upper tiers of Spanish football, and to be honest, no one knows how to avoid it right now, much less deal with the chaos that will ensue.

Let's start with the basics.  What precipitated the strike call, and what is it really about?

There are actually two groups who have called for a strike, both in response to the proposed new TV rights legislation (the government has put forward the bill, but it has not yet passed the Spanish parliament).   You might think, since the key point of this bill was the fairer distribution of TV revenues among Spanish clubs, that any strike would primarily be about this central issue.  And, this being Spain, you would be wrong.

The Spanish players' union is angry because 0.5% of the TV rights are set aside for the players (in the first two divisions, I believe); by comparison, the new EPL contract gives the players 1.5%.  The players are also angry that they were not consulted about many of the provisions of the contract (again, not the main bits, but stuff about how much money goes to the lower divisions and so forth).

The RFEF (Spanish football federation) is angry because the new law pretty much enshrines the league as the main mover and shaker in Spanish football at the expense of the RFEF.   This has happened in other countries--remember when the FA was the bigwig in English football, before the formation of the EPL?  Now the EPL controls the money and pulls the strings, leaving the FA to run its competitions and trickle down some money to amateur and lower-league football.  That's pretty much what the LFP (La Liga) want to do here.

But the real issue is personal.  Javier Tebas, head of the LFP, and Ángel Maria Villar, RFEF head, don't get along at all.  Nor does Tebas get along with José Luis Rubiales, the players' union head.  Tebas took control of the negotiations with the government about the TV rights law from the start, leaving Villar and Rubiales with a problem---should they demand a seat at the table, knowing Tebas will try to ignore them anyway?  In the end they seem to have given up on the process, and feel a strike is the only weapon they have.

This has been brewing for some time--recall back in March Villar was complaining the RFEF needed to be consulted and wasn't being.  (At that time the LFP threatened a strike, as I recall, unless the law continued forward).

So far negotiations haven't gotten anywhere.  The only good news is that there are no matches scheduled on Friday, and Segunda and Segunda B matches on Saturday (which could probably be played on Sunday), and Primera matches in Sunday only.  So either things get resolved at the 11th hour....which could be Friday night or Saturday night, or we have a strike.

In a second post I'll look at what might happen if a strike goes ahead.