Player strike throws Peru’s soccer league into chaos ahead of championship


By Rex Gowar ,Reuters

Peru’s soccer chief Manuel Burga has been summoned by FIFA to explain why the Peruvian first division championship kicked off in a state of chaos over a wage conflict. Peruvian Football Federation (FPF) General Secretary Javier Quintana said on Monday Burga had flown to world soccer body FIFA’s Swiss headquarters. “The players union has been in communication with FIFA over the things happening in Peruvian football, so Manuel Burga has been summoned for tomorrow in Zurich to allay those worries,” Quintana was quoted as saying on the local website www.rpp.com.pe. There was a bizarre start to the championship at the weekend as some teams fielded junior players because the professionals were on strike over money owed by a majority of the clubs including the two biggest, Universitario and Alianza Lima. The players union SAPAF called the strike after rejecting a plan from the league organizers ADFP for clubs to refinance their debts. SAPAF chief Francesco Manassero blamed the clubs, saying they had prevented a healing process in Peruvian soccer which has suffered years of underachievement at international and domestic level. “They gave us no way out. If we let them decide the amount (of the debts) and how much they should pay us were going to be waiting until the end of time. We cannot allow the players to be mistreated,” Manassero said. “Here it seems normal to owe four or five months wages and to want to refinance that in two years,” he was quoted as telling Blanco y Negro radio on Sunday. “All this is the consequence of the clubs and the FPF’s apathy in not doing anything to resolve this conflict.” Quintana blamed the ADFP for not delaying the start of the championship. “On Thursday we spoke with the association (ADFP), who called an assembly for Friday. On that day they should have taken the decision not to play the fixture, but on the contrary they gave it the green light,” he said.

San Martin Closure San Martin, who won the title three times between 2007-10 and are one of the few teams in good financial order, said they were dissolving the club because their players had joined the strike. Other clubs have said they are following suit. The San Martin board refused to send juniors to play against Melgar in the southern city of Arequipa, forfeiting the points. “(On Monday we) will withdraw from the championship and the club will be closed,” general manager Alvaro Barco told the leading daily El Comercio’s website (www.elcomercio.pe). “We feel the players have turned their backs on us.”

San Martin president Raul Bao Garcia, who along with his board risks a life ban if the club withdraws from the league, said the squad were wrong to show solidarity with the union. The chaos in the championship is bad news for Peru’s Uruguayan coach Sergio Markarian who has begun to bring some order to the national team. Peru finished third at last years Copa America having failed to qualify for the World Cup since 1982.