Italian players' strike less likely after talks

ROME - This weekend's Serie A players strike could be cancelled after positive talks between the union, the league and the Italian football federation on Tuesday.

"Tonight we can't officially announce that the strike has been called off even if we have made big steps forward," players' union president Sergio Campana told reporters after a seven-hour meeting at the federation headquarters.

"There is optimism. Tomorrow we will hear from the players and I believe there is a good chance we will reach agreement."

The union is in dispute with Serie A over a new collective contract which guarantees basic players' rights and was particularly against club plans to force unwanted footballers to train away from the first team or accept a transfer.

A first strike was called in September but was postponed to allow more talks but as negotiations dragged on without a deal, the union threatened new industrial action for this weekend's matches.

Fans, media and some players have criticised the union for daring to tell its millionaire members to strike when Italy is experiencing general economic hardship.