Spanish footballers’ union says games in US could lead to strikes

Players against playing league games abroad and angry at not being consulted by La Liga

The union of Spanish footballers (AFE) is unanimously opposed to La Liga's plans to play regular season games in the United States and will not rule out going on strike to protest against the proposals, it said on Wednesday. Captains and vice-captains representing the 20 clubs in the league, including Barcelona's Sergio Busquets and Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos, attended a meeting in Madrid called by union president David Aganzo in response to last week's announcement from La Liga.

“The captains are surprised and angry that such an important decision was taken without being consulted. The players are unanimously against this, no one is in favour of it,” Aganzo told a news conference.

“There are some clubs that are in favour and others that are against it, but I’m speaking on behalf of the footballers.”

Aganzo, who became head of the union this year when Luis Rubiales left the role to become president of the Spanish Football Federation, did not rule out organising a players' strike if their concerns are not heard. "I will state very clearly that we will do everything possible to avoid this," he added.


A spokesperson for La Liga said the body had no immediate comment following Aganzo’s declarations.

La Liga has not given details on when the first match across the Atlantic would take place, how many games per season would be involved, how they would be selected or whether it would compensate the loss of home advantage for teams involved.

“Things need to done in a much more coherent way,” Aganzo said. “Football is not only business, and decisions like this cannot be taken unilaterally and we are fed up now and we have many things to say.”

Henry to Bordeaux

Meanwhile, Thierry Henry is edging closer to securing a first managerial position after holding talks with Bordeaux, with the former Arsenal striker and current Belgium assistant manager understood to be enthusiastic at the prospect of working at the Ligue 1 club.

Bordeaux, who play Gent in the Europa League qualifying play-offs Thursday but have been beaten in their two top-flight games this season, sacked Gus Poyet last week after the Uruguayan branded the sale of his forward Gaëtan Laborde without his knowledge "a disgrace". Poyet was initially suspended, then dismissed after a brief meeting with club officials last Friday.

There was initial interest in the former Lyon and Aston Villa manager Remi Garde, who is working in Major League Soccer at Montreal Impact, and the former France manager Laurent Blanc, who has since distanced himself from the role.

Yet Henry, who has worked under Roberto Martinez with Belgium for two years and helped guide them to the nation's best World Cup finish of third at this summer's tournament, emerged as favourite for the position this week and has apparently made clear his desire to take up the reins.

The situation at Bordeaux is complicated with the club in the process of being sold by the M6 Group to the US-based investment fund General American Capital Partners, and any appointment would have to be ratified by outgoing and incoming owners alike. That could delay the process and, as yet, no formal agreement has been struck. Yet the 41-year-old former Arsenal and Barcelona striker is eager for the opportunity to make his mark from the dugout, and hopeful he will be offered his chance.

– Guardian and agencies