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Chilean football calls strike over new promotion rules

The Sifup union has called a halt to the new season in protest at changes to promotion and relegation format that has cost "120 players' jobs."

Chilean football calls strike over new promotion rules
Ramon MonroyPhotosport

Professional footballers in Chile have voted to invoke industrial action over a dispute with the national association over plans to reduce promotion and relegation between the divisions, forcing the start of the league season to be postponed.

The players' union Sifup is unhappy at the decision to change the rules for the 2016-17 season, a move which it says has cost 120 players their jobs in the top two divisions. It has also complained about unpaid wages at some clubs.

"The professional players unanimously decided to follow the call to stop the national championship," said Sifup in a statement.

The Chilean FA (ANFP) has ruled that only one team will relegated and one team promoted between the top tier, known as the Primera División, and second tier, known as the Primera B, at the end of the 2016/17 season.

Meanwhile, there will be no promotion or relegation at all between the second and third tier, known as the Segunda.

Sifup said the decision had "reduced the competitiveness of the domestic tournaments, where the clubs, who do not see themselves as threatened in case of a poor campaign, have drastically cut the costs of their squads."

It said that 120 players had seen their contracts terminated in the top two tiers and 300 in the third tier.

The ANFP confirmed that the start of the season at the weekend would be postponed and said that the reduced promotion and relegation was for the upcoming season only.

"We regret Sifup's decision to ratify the strike, a situation which will have negative effects on the championship, the fans, the players and the sport in general," it said.