MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A festering labor dispute in Australian soccer could scuttle two women’s matches between the world champion United States and the Matildas next week, governing body Football Federation Australia has warned.
Some 60,000 tickets have been sold for the Sept. 17 and 20 matches in Detroit and Birmingham but the FFA said there was little hope of a breakthrough in the dispute with Australia’s players’ association.
“We simply cannot afford the conditions they sought to impose on the game yesterday,” FFA CEO David Gallop told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.
“It’s just not possible to meet those demands on a couple of days’ notice.
“When you’ve got 60,000 people holding tickets, it’s obviously a concern.
“For them ... to seek to boycott matches against the world champions, once in a lifetime opportunities ... we find that very disappointing and we question the direction the players’ association are going with this.”
The Australian women’s team boycotted a training camp ahead of their tour of the United States as part of the ongoing dispute over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The CBA, which was to govern pay and conditions for both the men’s and women’s national teams, and players in Australia’s top-flight domestic A-League, expired on June 30.
Talks have since dragged on without resolution, with both sides venting their grievances in a bitter public relations war.
The FFA’s hope to seal a comprehensive deal with both A-League and national players has backfired, with each bloc standing firm in rejecting their offers.
On the women’s side, the Matildas have been on the front foot since the World Cup, when local media highlighted the quarter-finalists’ modest pay and conditions relative to the men’s team.
The FFA said they had been blindsided by new demands from the Matildas on Tuesday, which included business class air-fares and better accommodation to match the men.
The PFA denied they had changed tack.
Relations with the men’s team have also become increasingly toxic, with players boycotting commercial appearances in Perth last week in the leadup to their World Cup qualifier against Bangladesh.
Men’s coach Ange Postecoglou fumed that the dispute was overshadowing his team’s qualifying campaign.
The impasse between the 10-team A-League and players has also shown no sign of easing, with clubs condemning the PFA’s demands as “economic vandalism” in a statement on Thursday.
Editing by Greg Stutchbury