Football: Italian players asked to strike

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The Independent Online
SERGIO CAMPANA, the head of Italy's footballers' union, has called for a six-month strike to protest against the handling of the doping scandal which has engulfed Serie A. Campana said the inquiries into the use of banned substances in Italy's first division had violated players' rights to privacy.

"The players are the first ones to feel indignation by this daily release of names and precise references to players and teams," Campana said yesterday. "There have been huge violations of privacy.

"If the results [of the inquiry] show that players voluntarily broke anti-doping regulations then they should be punished for ruining the game's image," Campana conceded. But he added that no names should be mentioned until prosecutors had completed their investigations.

The inquiries began this summer when Zdenek Zeman, the Roma coach, suggested two Juventus players had used illegal substances. Anti-doping investigators at the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) have also opened an inquiry.

The accusations have so far caused the resignation of the CONI president Mario Pescante and the firing of the chief of CONI's drug-testing laboratory.

It would not be the first time Serie A players have gone on strike. They caused an uproar in March 1996 when they failed to turn up for weekend games in protest at unfair working conditions.