Players’ strike over unpaid wages likely to halt the start of soccer season in Argentina


BUENOS AIRES — The Argentine government has authorized millions for back payments to players at the country’s top soccer clubs. But union officials say the amount is insufficient to break a strike that threatens the start of the season on Friday.

“The money handed over by the state is not enough to satisfy the demands, therefore the strike will continue,” Sergio Marchi, the president of the Argentine Footballers Union, said at a news conference on Thursday. “It all stays the same. There’s no football,” Marchi added.

The offer was published in the state’s official bulletin. It said Argentine President Mauricio Macri authorized US$22.7 million to compensate the clubs for the termination of a TV contract, which was held by the government.

Macri is the former president of Boca Juniors club.

It’s not clear how much players are owed in Argentina’s top league, and the four below it. Some contracts were illegal and set up to avoid taxes.

The unpaid wages are owed mostly to players at the country’s smaller clubs. However, large clubs like Newell’s Old Boys, Quilmes, and others have acknowledged they owe salaries. Argentina’s top division ended in December, and was to restart a month ago but has been repeatedly delayed by financial problems plaguing the clubs and the Argentine Football Association.