Peru players to boycott national team

LIMA - Peruvian players said they would boycott the national team if the country's football authorities do not make wholesale changes to the way the sport is run.

Francesco Manassero, president of the players' union Safap, said the boycott will take effect after next month's World Cup qualifiers have been played.

"From June 24, they will not accept a call-up from the national team until their demands have been met," Manassero told a news conference on Wednesday. "We need to take urgent action to change football in our country."

Peru, regarded as the South America's third-strongest soccer nation after Brazil and Argentina during the 1970s, have not qualified for a World Cup since 1982.

They are bottom of the 10-team South American qualifying group with no realistic chance of getting to South Africa next year. Results have included a 6-0 defeat in Uruguay and a 5-1 loss in Ecuador.

Manassero said the agreement had been signed by all the locally-based professionals, who make up the bulk of the national team.

One of the union's main demands is to increase the number of clubs eligible to vote for the president of the Peruvian Football Federation (FPF).

Peru was briefly suspended by FIFA last year because of a row with the government's Institute for Sports (IPD), which refused to recognise Manuel Burga as FPF president.

The IPD claimed that the federation elections were not in line with Peruvian law. Burga said he was a victim of a clash between Peruvian law and FIFA statutes.

"The federation will undertake an exhaustive analysis of all the requests," the FPF said in a statement. "The federation will maintain its policy of keeping its doors open to dialogue."

Players who turned down a national team call-up would be subject to disciplinary action, it added.


Peruvian players are often accused of indiscipline but in turn complain of harassment by the country's tabloid newspapers and television stations.

Many Peruvians believe the FPF shot themselves in the foot last year after banning top players Claudio Pizarro, Jefferson Farfan and Santiago Acasiete from international football for alleged indiscipline.

The bans have ended but coach Jose del Solar has refused to recall the trio.

The domestic game is in a deplorable state with players often complaining they have not been paid wages for months and clubs sometimes struggling to even find training pitches.

Clubs come and go with alarming frequency.

Arequipa-based Total Clean became the latest club to disappear from the scene when they merged with Atletico Chalaco at the end of last year to form a new club called Total Chalaco.

Peruvian teams are routinely knocked out of the South American Libertadores Cup, the region's equivalent of the Champions League, at the first hurdle.