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Players, Coaches, Referees, Administrators and Their Parents

The Serie A strike is finally over—at least for now. The players’ union (AIC) and the league (Serie A) agreed upon a short-term deal that will allow the season to begin this Friday, with only a week’s worth of games being missed. 
 
One of the points of contention—the rights of players to participate in first team trainings—is still somewhat unresolved, and a stipulation was added to the deal requiring some sort of closure to the issue within the next 30 days. 
 
The second component of the strike revolved around a new solidarity tax that the Italian government would have applied to the league’s highest salaried players, but that has now been dropped. 
 
The strike was a long time coming, and even though it appears to be temporarily over, both sides could renew their conflict in the future once the current one-year contract ends. It was a similar short-term agreement that was enacted after the main collective agreement expired in June of 2010, and the resulting quick-fix didn’t provide much stability, resulting in the strike.  
 
Both sides also talked about other league-related issues. Specifically, plans that would initiate development programs and add financial assistance towards building new stadiums was postponed. Many of the league’s stadiums are in dire need of updates, and recent financial data has shown that Serie A is losing out on important revenue that could be gained through increased seating capacity, stadium ownership, and facility upgrades. 
 
Counterfeit problems related to sponsorship were also discussed. Since counterfeiting is so prevalent in Italy, both sponsors and teams are losing out on valuable income due to illegal merchandising
 
Additionally, clubs now want players to be classified under law as self-employed instead of employees of the organization. Once again, this is an issue that would ultimately help the bottom line and save teams from a few additional expenses. 
 
Although a complete catastrophe has been avoided, the averted strike just adds more bad press to a Serie A league struggling with image problems. 
 
Besides the match-fixing scandal that rocked the soccer world back in 2006, the league’s best teams have recently fared poorly in European club competitions, resulting in the loss of a Champion’s League spot that will be transferred to the Bundesliga beginning in the 12/13 season. 
 
To make matters worse, Udinese recently got booted during the qualifying stages of the Champions League by a decrepit Arsenal side that recently got destroyed 8-2 by Manchester United. Also, Napoli, a surprise entrant into the tournament this year, will struggle to overcome their unlucky group stage, being paired with the newly empowered Manchester City and the longtime German power Bayern Munich—and La Liga’s Villareal. The future hope of Serie A remain firmly in two of their most prestigious teams: Internazionale and AC Milan. 
 
Cesare Prandelli, Italy’s head coach, is worried that the recent strike and lack of playing time may adversely impact the national team. The team just narrowly defeated the Faroe Islands by a score of 1-0, and the match showed that Italy has a long way to go before regaining their usual stellar form. 
 
Overall, Italians can breathe a sigh of relief that their national pastime is back on, but they have every right to be worried about what direction the sport is headed.

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