MADRID, Reuters -- Spanish first and second division players will strike for the first two weekends of the 2011/2012 league season, the players' union (AFE) said on Thursday.

The football league (LFP) responded in a statement saying they did not understand the strike call with negotiations ongoing and the leagues due to start on Aug. 20-21.

"We are unanimous and firm in our decision to call a strike," AFE president Luis Rubiales told a news conference. "The league will not start until a new agreement (between the league and the players) has been signed."

The AFE were supported at the event by over 100 top flight footballers, including Spanish internationals Iker Casillas and Carles Puyol, and union representatives from the International Players' Union FIFPro, France, Germany and Italy.

At the heart of the dispute is the union's demand for a larger emergency fund to help players not being paid by clubs who are in financial administration.

The AFE said last year 12 million euros ($17 million) was owed to about 100 players and at the end of last season that figure stood at almost 50 million owed to 200 players.


The LFP said progress had been achieved and it had "adopted two historical changes to Spanish football that corresponded to the players requests."

They had brought in a new financial self-regulation code for clubs and made an extra effort to guarantee a fund to protect a proportion of players' wages at clubs in administration.

"For this reason, the calling of a strike at a moment when fundamental steps forward are being taken is incomprehensible for the LFP," the league said, while pointing out they would continue negotiations.

Earlier, Rubiales said they had been seeking a series of protective measures for players that are commonplace in other European leagues.

"It is lamentable. As it stands we are at the bottom of the pile in Europe," Rubiales said.

"We don't want more money we want the clubs to honour the contracts they sign with their players.

"We have put forward proposals which exist in Holland, Germany, France and England which are preventative. In these countries if a club shows it can't pay its players the club doesn't compete.

"We have asked that players who are owed more than three months (wages) can break their contracts. It seemed like we had an agreement but it was left out."


Rubiales said the LFP had unilaterally imposed a new settlement at the beginning of August which the players rejected.

"Enough is enough," he added. "This does not mean we are refusing to negotiate any more. We will do (so) for the good of the players and football in general."

Spanish football has seen a growing number of clubs slip into financial difficulties recently.

Racing Santander were the latest La Liga side to seek protection from creditors, joining Real Mallorca, Real Zaragoza and the three promoted teams -- Real Betis, Rayo Vallecano and Granada -- in administration.

A recent study by an accounting professor at Barcelona University, Jose Maria Gay, showed the 20 top-flight clubs made a combined net loss of some 100 million euros in the year to the end of June 2010, up from 19 million the previous year.

The total debt at 3.43 billion euros was more than double revenues of 1.61 billion euros.

A separate study Gay published last month showed second-tier

sides made a combined net loss of about 43.1 million euros in

the 2009-10 season and total debt was more than 550 million.

More than half of the 22 teams were in administration.

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