Serie A players set date for strike action

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Italian Serie A players, clamouring for more say in national federation and league decisions, are threatening to go on strike on 17 March. Second and Third division players may follow suit on subsequent Sundays.

Games in the top three divisions in Italy have never before been affected by strikes. "We're waiting for them to review their position," a league spokesman, Michele Tigani, said yesterday. "I'm confident that good sense will prevail, and that drastic decisions won't come to pass."

Sergio Campana, president of the Italian professional players' association, AIC, said that players would strike if dialogue with the country's sports authorities does not improve.

"The players are the weak link in the chain, we count for little and that's not democratic," said the Juventus forward Gianluca Vialli, an AIC committee member. "We want to enter the control room and vote on decisions that interest us."

Campana cited the proposed disbandment of part of the Third Division, on which officials have not consulted players, as an example of poor communication. If players' demands are not met by 17 March, the Second and Third Division walkouts would follow.

The most recent protest in Italy was 18 December 1994, when First Division games kicked off 45 minutes late in attempt to press the Italian federation to come up with money for unemployed players and coaches.

Roberto Donadoni, a member of Italy's 1990 and 1994 World Cup teams, was one of 12 more players that Major League Soccer in the United States assigned to teams yesterday, one day ahead of its inaugural draft in New York.

Donadoni, who played for Milan for 10 years, joined the MetroStars. The 35-year-old midfielder joins American internationals Tab Ramos and Tony Meola, who are already assigned to the New York City area club. The Metro Stars' fourth allocated player is the 21-year-old American midfield player Damian Silvera.

The US national team captain and sweeper, Marcelo Balboa, who has won a record 109 caps, was assigned to the Colorado Rapids.

Balboa, a veteran of two World Cups who has played the last two seasons with Leon in the Mexican First Division, was the third player allocated to the Rapids, joining fellow American internationals Dominic Kinnear and Roy Wegerle. Each of the 10 MLS teams was allocated four players except Colorado, which was to announce its fourth player at a later date.

Also newly allocated were the former Italian international Giuseppe Galderisi, and American Professional Soccer League All-Star goalkeeper Jim St Andre, both to the New England Revolution. Defender Cle Kooiman, who played in the 1994 US World Cup team, was assigned to the Tampa Bay Mutiny. The season starts on 6 April.