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Real Madrid and the Spanish Players' Strike: Some Stray Observations


According to reports circulating out of Madrid this afternoon, the LFP (the governing body of Spanish soccer) and the AFE (the Spanish player's association) have failed to come to terms yet again over the strike that has paralyzed Spanish soccer, and indefinitely postponed the start of the Liga BBVA. The two sides are set to meet again on Tuesday, though AFE spokesman Luís Gil was not optimistic that a deal would get done that soon:

"The problem isn't solved," he told reporters early Monday afternoon. "I understand people want to see football but you have to think about the players who are having a bad time. I would like to be more optimistic, but I can't." Source: Reuters

The conditions of the Spanish players strike are much less complicated, and yet infinitely more sticky, than those surrounding the major American lockouts this summer. While the NBA is locked out because their collective bargaining agreement is up and the owners want to cut player contracts, while the players want a bigger (or at least similar) piece of the total revenue from the league, (and the NFL figured out its' lockout by agreeing to a more equitable revenue-sharing model with the players), the LFP and the AFE are clashing over unpaid salaries.

It's one of the most basic things to go on strike about: the employers aren't living up to their promise to pay the workers their salaries. It's so basic, in fact, that if this were a coal miner strike in Idaho, then we wouldn't even think twice about who to support.

But the fact is that who is striking shapes our perspective of the situation almost more than what they're striking over. We see the words "athletes strike over wages" and we think, "oh, come on you make more in a week than I do in a year. Grow up." And it's true. But it shouldn't impact how we understand the situation.

There is an clear right and wrong here, even if the details are a little fuzzy: employees have the right to be paid their salaries in a prompt manner by their employers. It's not a complicated maxim, and in fact, it's one that our economic system (for better or for worse) is based on.

I'll direct you now to this article in the Jakarta Globe, where the author succinctly sums up how people tend to feel when thinking and talking about millionaires who are striking:

"This bold move from Spanish footballers reminds us that with all their bling, football players are still just workers and laborers. They just happen to get paid a thousand times more than the average person, but are still prone to unfair treatment from employers." Souce: The Jakarta Globe

Sometimes, even though everything in our body wants to scream at those spoiled overpaid brats to get back to work, we need to step back and remember that these athletes--some of whom we hate, and some of whom we love--are just people. And more than that--they're just employees, many of whom haven't been paid in a long time.

Does it really have to be more complicated than that?

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