Spanish football teams threaten to strike over discriminatory new sports law

The majority of Spain's topflight football teams have threatened to go on strike against a proposed new sports law which they argue benefits major clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Spanish football teams threaten to strike over discriminatory new sports law
La Liga also wants the new sports law to make it possible sanction clubs playing in competitions which it does not approve of. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

La Liga – which governs Spain’s professional football divisions – has called an extraordinary assembly on Thursday to discuss next steps including a possible strike over the draft legislation which still needs the approval of parliament.

The row pits Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Athletic de Bilbao along with the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) — the governing body of football in Spain – against La Liga.

There are two main issues in the spat over the law which has the backing of Spain’s ruling Socialists and the main opposition conservative Popular Party (PP).

One involves an agreement reached with private equity firm CVC which paid €2.0 billion in exchange for 8.2 percent of La Liga’s revenues from its image rights during 50 years.

Tweet reading “11 years ago the Premier League decided to share its TV revenue like this, 11 years later it’s been proven that this spread strengthened their league and weakened ours”.

La Liga says the deal will give it a cash injection that will allow it to compete with the English Premier League but Real Madrid, Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao opposed it, saying it gives up too much for too little money.

La Liga wants the new sports law to shield this agreement. It believes the major clubs oppose it because it calls for a more equitable distribution of football revenues among clubs.

Big clubs want to “return to an old football model where there were huge inequalities and the growth of more modest clubs was greatly restricted,” said the director general of second division side FC Granada, Alfredo García.

The football federation, however, argues the agreement with CVC forgets modest amateur clubs and questions the legality of the deal.

“Now the government and the main opposition party are going to change the rules of the game and are going to make legal what is illegal? That would be very serious,” RFEF president Luis Rubiales told daily newspaper El País.

La Liga also wants the new sports law to make it possible sanction clubs playing in competitions which it does not approve of, such as the proposed European Super League which would have been made up Europe’s elite clubs.

Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez was one of the main drivers of breakaway league.

In an advert published Tuesday in several Spanish newspapers on Tuesday, La Liga defended the need for a sports law “that does not favour the creation of a Super League that seriously damages Spanish football”.

La Liga says the government had agreed to address its concerns in the new sports law but the amendments it called for ended up disappearing from the legislation.

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IN IMAGES: Argentina fans take over Spain’s cities after World Cup win

Thousands of Argentinians took to the streets of Madrid, Barcelona and other city centres across Spain to celebrate their national side’s victory against France in the World Cup final on Sunday.  

IN IMAGES: Argentina fans take over Spain's cities after World Cup win

Many of the roughly 100,000 Argentinians who have made Spain their home celebrated en masse the victory of la albiceleste until the early hours of Sunday night, packing squares, honking horns, chanting football songs and adorning everything in white and light blue. 

Argentina’s World Cup victory against France on penalties after an exhilarating 3-3 draw saw an explosion of joy among Argentinians the world around, and Spain was no exception. 

By midday in Madrid, there was a 50-metre queue outside nightclub Shoko, where Argentina fans gathered to watch their team on a big screen. 

When the winning penalty was scored, they exploded onto the streets, filling the Spanish capital’s Puerta del Sol square to the brim. 

Celebrations at times got out of hand, with some fans trying to climb the giant Christmas tree in Madrid’s iconic square.

Riot police had to be called in to assist and two people were arrested. 

In Barcelona, 10,000 people gathered at the city’s Arc de Triomf, lighting the sky red with flares and letting off fireworks, but fortunately there were no arrests or accidents reported.

Barcelona and Argentina share a common idol in Lionel Messi, who scored two goals in the final and was chosen player of the tournament. 

In Valencia, Argentina fans gathered in front of the town hall to celebrate. In Málaga, they gathered at River Plate’s youth academy branch. Similar scenes were witnessed in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Seville, Bilbao and other cities across the territory.  

Spain’s cultural and linguistic links with Argentina run deep, as together with Italians, Spaniards made up the majority of the migrants that turned modern Argentina into a European melting pot in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

In more recent years, the trend has been reversed, with large migration flows every time an economic crisis hits the Argentine peso.

So far in 2022, more than 33,000 Argentine nationals have moved to Spain, the highest number in 14 years. 

Many of them have Italian passports, which partly explains why the biggest foreign population group in Barcelona are Italians. 

But under Spain’s new Grandchildren Law, many thousands of Argentine nationals will be able to claim Spanish citizenship, in plenty of cases without having ever lived in Spain.