SHARE
COPY LINK

FOOTBALL

Spain’s footballers union threaten strike over US match

Spain's footballers union threatened on Wednesday to strike over controversial plans to play a La Liga match in the United States, blasting a decision based only on "money and business".

Spain's footballers union threaten strike over US match
Atletico Madrid's Spanish forward Diego Costa (R) challenges Valencia's defender Gabriel Paulista during La Liga match on Monday. Photo: AFP

“We are tired of these unilateral decisions that directly affect the players like this plan of playing outside Spain,” said David Aganzo, the president of the players union (AFE) after a meeting attended by a host of  stars including Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos and Barcelona's Sergio Busquets.

Spain's La Liga announced last Thursday that they planned to stage a match in North America as part of an expansion drive.

READ MORE: La Liga reveals plans to take Spanish soccer to United States

The teams and the venue were not disclosed but El Pais newspaper said the match would take place over the coming 2018-19 season and would probably feature either Barcelona or Real Madrid as one of the teams.

Aganzo said Wednesday that the AFE planned to meet La Liga chiefs in September to try and convince officials to give up on the plan.   

If not, at the “end of September or the beginning of October we will have to start acting,” said Aganzo adding the union was “prepared to go to the end”, evoking the possibility of a “strike”. 

“We are used to seeing football played only for money and business,” added Aganzo who said Liga officials no longer take into account “the health and risk for the players”.

The national supporters federation (FASFE) have described the plan to move a match to the United States as an “aberration”.   

La Liga earned 3.6 billion euros in revenues during the 2016-2017 season, nearly 40 percent of which came from TV rights and generated a pre-tax profit of €234 million. 

For the 2017-2018 season, La Liga said it hoped to exceed for the first time the four-billion-euro mark in revenue.

READ ALSO: Six new signings to watch in La Liga

FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

SHOW COMMENTS