Italian players stand firm with strike threat

Associated Press
Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo, right, challenges for the ball with AC Milan midfielder Urby Emanuelson, of Netherlands, during a pre-season  'Berlusconi Trophy' soccer match at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

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MILAN (AP) — The Italian players' association is standing firm with its threat to strike if a new collective contract is not signed before the start of Serie A this weekend.

Player representatives of all 20 clubs met in Milan on Monday, with players' association president Damiano Tommasi saying afterward "the fact is that the season cannot start without a collective contract. ... We're hoping to start the season, because that would mean we will have signed the contract."

Italian soccer federation president Giancarlo Abete was set to hold a news conference later to address the main sticking point: a proposal that would allow clubs to force players no longer wanted to train away from the first team or accept a transfer.

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