Peru bow to boycott threat

LIMA - Peru's football federation, threatened with a players' boycott of the national team, has announced a number of changes aimed at improving working conditions for the players in the country. The federation (FPF) said, among other things, clubs will from next season be forced to pay pension and social security contributions for the players while coaches and their assistants would be protected by labour legislation. It also banned midday kick offs on synthetic pitches, which have led to players complaining of intolerable conditions because of the heat. The announcement came less than three weeks before Peru's next competitive international, at home to Uruguay in a World Cup qualifier, and with the federation facing the prospect of a boycott by the professionals. The players' union Safap said in May its members would ignore national team call-ups unless a series of reforms were made to Peruvian football, which has reached one of the lowest ebbs in its history. Peru, regarded as South America's third-strongest soccer nation after Brazil and Argentina during the 1970s, have not qualified for a World Cup since 1982 and are bottom of the region's 2010 qualifying group. DEPLORABLE STATE The domestic game is in a deplorable state with players often complaining they have not been paid for months and clubs sometimes struggling to even find training pitches. Peru were briefly suspended by FIFA last year because of a row with the government's Institute for Sports (IPD), which refused to recognise FPF president Manuel Burga. In other measures, the FPF announced a new promotion system for the national championship to come into effect in 2011. Teams from the top flight, which will be renamed Division Premier, will be relegated to the second division while those finishing bottom of the second will go into the Copa Peru, a vast nationwide tournament featuring mainly amateur clubs. Under the old system, the Copa Peru winners went straight into the top division, meaning clubs could reach the top flight only one year after being founded. Relegated teams found themselves playing tiny amateur clubs in the early stages of the following season's Copa Peru. There was also a slight modification to the rule that bans coaches from working at more than one club during a season. The FPF said they coaches now be able to move to a different club if their first one failed to pay them compensation. Coaches have complained that under the present system those fired early in the season cannot work for the rest of the year.