- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

MADRID (AP) - Spain’s soccer federation is suspending all league and cup matches from May 16 in protest at a proposed law on the sale of television rights and the division of the income earned.

The federation said the decision had been taken by its board of directors on Wednesday.

The government approved the law on April 30, although it still needs to be approved by Parliament. It aims to regulate the rights to broadcast first and second division games as well as Copa del Rey and Supercup matches.

However, the federation said the proposed legislation “has not resolved any of the problems gravely affecting soccer.”

As a result, the federation has called an “indefinite strike” that will “suspend all competitions in all categories” from mid-May.

The last two rounds of the Spanish league, along with the Copa del Rey final on May 30, fall after that date.

The Spanish government’s sports council later rejected the football federation’s claims and said the law was “the biggest historical achievement in defending the interests of players and clubs.”

The sports council said the legislation would enable Spanish football to “reach levels of marketing, profitability and sustainability unthinkable so far.”

Enrique Cerezo, the president of La Liga club Atletico Madrid, said he expected all parties would negotiate.

“I think there’s room for talk right up until May 16,” Cerezo said. The strike is due to begin the day before his team hosts Barcelona in the penultimate round of the Spanish league.

The council said the federation’s action was “an excuse to justify a continuing confrontation whose only basis was to defend its own interests.”

Once approved by Parliament, the legislation would come into effect in 2016.

Currently, individual clubs negotiate their own TV contracts and big clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona claim large TV rights incomes, but leaving smaller and less well-known clubs often struggling for money.

The law aims to bring Spanish soccer in line with how British and Italian football leagues are marketed, and will correct existing “imbalances” in earnings that allow top clubs to claim a disproportionate amount of the TV income.

Most of Spain’s 42 professional clubs were pressing governing bodies to negotiate a collective rights deal similar to that employed by the English Premier League, which in February struck a deal for 2016-19 worth about 5 billion pounds ($7.4 billion) for the domestic rights alone.


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