Japanese players register as union

TOKYO - Japanese football could be heading for industrial action after a row over win bonuses for the national team saw the players association register as a labour union.

Japan's players association (JPFA) announced on Wednesday it would register as a union, though its president, Toshiya Fujita, said it hoped to have productive negotiations with the Japan Football Association (JFA) and avoid potential strike action.

"We want to make an effort to find the best way forward for the future of Japanese soccer," he told Japan's Nikkan Sports newspaper.

The JFA has opposed demands for a pay rise, pointing to the two million yen ($24,500) paid to each player for wins at last year's World Cup in South Africa - double the amount shelled out at the 2006 tournament in Germany.

Japan's players were demanding bigger bonuses before the Blue Samurai won the Asian Cup in January and had threatened to boycott friendlies with Montenegro and New Zealand this month.

The JFA hit back by saying they paid each player 3.95 million yen when Japan won the Asian Cup.

Japanese internationals currently receive an estimated 100,000-200,000 yen for every win but the players are reported to be asking for a minimum of one million yen.

The Blue Samurai will play Montenegro on March 25 in Shizuoka, Japan.


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