Spanish soccer strike ends, deal reached


MADRID (AP) — The Spanish soccer season will start Friday after players and league officials reached a deal to end a strike that had postponed the opening round of games in the top two divisions.

An agreement was reached Thursday after the Spanish league guaranteed payment of $72 million owed to more than 200 players in back wages. The Association of Spanish Football Players (AFE) called off the strike after the league also agreed to allow players to be released from their contracts if wages were not paid for three months.

"We've reached a deal that we believe is completely satisfactory," AFE head Luis Rubiales said.

It was the first strike by players in Spain since 1984.

Soccer will officially get under way on Friday with a second-division match between Girona and Elche. First-division play begins Saturday when Sporting Gijon faces Real Sociedad, with Real Madrid playing at Zaragoza on Sunday.

Three-time defending Spanish champion Barcelona plays Villarreal on Monday. It will play FC Porto in the European Supercup in Monaco on Friday.

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