The whistles were silenced this weekend in Ecuadorian soccer. A thousand professional arbitrators went on strike after being unpaid for four months while the jailed leadership seeks reprisals against the union members and the crisis deepens.
The judges demand the payment of salaries for four months, the responsibility of LigaPro, an entity that associates professional clubs of the first (16) and second category (10) and that is in charge of organizing the rented contest.
“We want this to be solved, we ask for a formal payment commitment, to reach payment agreements, but that they comply with us and do not lie to us,” Luis Muentes, president of the professional arbitrators of Ecuador, told AFP.
The union that brings together about a thousand judges, 78 from the first division and 16 with a FIFA cockade, has refused to direct the matches for the seventh date of the second stage of the local tournament.
The teams took to the field in four different stadiums, but the most resisted and insulted characters in the world of football never appeared there: the referees.
The Technical University-Manta, Orense-Guayaquil City, Delfín-Aucas and Nueve de Octubre-Macará matches were suspended.
A similar ritual will be repeated with the four remaining duels, three this Sunday and another scheduled for Monday, because the parties do not seek to solve it, although “the dialogue has never been broken, but real solutions are not proposed to us,” said Muentes.
– Order from Conmebol –
LigaPro offered to hand over $ 200,000 last Friday in an attempt to lift the de facto measure, but to no avail.
“They told us the same thing in July and they did not comply, they have owed us since May and we can no longer bear it,” stressed the arbitration director.
The Ecuadorian Football Federation (FEF), meanwhile, reacted with a letter to the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) in which it requested not to consider tricolor judges for international tournament programming.
In addition, directors of the 25 of the 26 professional clubs (Emelec from Buenos Aires excluded himself) requested an extraordinary Congress to reform the statute and allow international arbitrators to be hired, which is not currently authorized.
“We seek to have the necessary legal tools to face this crisis,” the president of the Macará club, Miller Salazar, told AFP.
He added that “we all lose, the pandemic has hit us all in these two years, there is no money from television rights, we do not have box office income, that should be understood by the referees as well.”
The members, in a statement, reacted by saying that this type of response “undermines our dignity and goes against the right to work.”
In 2006, a similar situation achieved the adhesion of the judges’ unions in the region who gave up calling in Ecuador in solidarity with their colleagues, who were then demanding their labor rights.
– «Suicide» suspend another week –
“We ask FOR SUPPORT from all of us who have chosen this dignified profession throughout South America,” state the Ecuadorian judges who, according to Muentes, “had a positive response from several fellow referees from South America.”
Salazar in this regard commented that “we have to evaluate this very well, we do not know if it will cost us more to bring judges from abroad, we want an exit that does not harm anyone.”
To return to directing, the union requests the cancellation of a debt that “reaches approximately one million dollars.”
In recent days, criticism of various arbitration decisions intensified, even the popular Barcelona of Guayaquil threatened to stop participating if they continued to harm him.
“Behind us we have families to support, I do not look for excuses, but it could happen that the need we live may cause some kind of distraction for a colleague,” said Muentes.
In this regard, the president of Macará said “the refereeing has been of a very low level, this causes some resentment in the leaders of Ecuadorian soccer.”
Regarding the possibility of solving it this week, the leader with more than 30 years of experience was forceful “it would be a suicide to suspend Ecuadorian football for one more week.” AFP (HN)