March 8, 2017 / 9:18 PM / 5 months ago

Argentine players end strike, league to resume

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina's professional soccer players have ended their strike and the league is set to resume, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) said on Wednesday.

The first division championship, which had been scheduled to restart a month ago but was held up over financial issues, gets going again with Velez Sarsfield's home match against Estudiantes on Thursday.

The AFA and players' union boss Sergio Marchi confirmed the strike was over at a joint news conference at the Labour ministry.

"We've reached a balanced agreement in which we've managed to resolve the conflict so that (playing) activity can start," Marchi said.

The players called a strike because many, especially in the lower divisions, were owed up to five months in salaries.

The 2016-17 season went into a summer recess in December with Boca Juniors top of the standings and the only teams with match practice since then are those taking part in the South American Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana.

Leaders Boca, who visit Banfield on Saturday, have 31 points from 14 matches, three ahead of San Lorenzo and Newell’s Old Boys.

The return to action was delayed over the Argentine FA’s drawn-out negotiations with the national government for the payment of a $25-milion debt for match broadcasting rights.

The parties finally came to an agreement 12 days ago but money has taken time to get deposited in clubs’ bank accounts and then paid to the players.

The pool of money now available to the AFA was boosted on Wednesday by 40 million Argentine pesos ($2.6 million) paid to the AFA by the championship's sponsor Axion.

The AFA has been in crisis since the death in 2014 of long-time president Julio Grondona.

Grondona was implicated in the 2015 FIFA corruption scandal in which dozens of soccer officials mainly from the Americas were charged with fraud by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Editing by Ed Osmond

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