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Chilean footballers vote to strike, matches called off

15   //    19 Jul 2016, 14:20 IST

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile's footballers have voted to go on strike, forcing the start of the league season to be postponed.

The players' union Sifup is unhappy at a decision to reduce promotion and relegation in the new 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 Division, 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 efforts on the championship, the fans, the players and the sport in general," it said.

(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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