Peru players threaten national team boycott

LIMA - Peru could forfeit their World Cup qualifiers next month after about 500 players sent letters of resignation to the Peruvian Football Federation (FPF), local media reported on Saturday. The players would disregard national team call-ups until the FPF agreed to reforms in the game they see as essential to pull Peru out of a slump that has them at the bottom of South America's 10-nation World Cup qualifying group, they said. Peru, who have one win and seven points after 14 matches, are at home to Uruguay on September 5 and away to Venezuela three days later. "The resignation was made official today (Friday) and there are no more deadlines," Fernando Revilla, manager of the players' union (Safap) said. "Whether we lift the measure afterwards is another matter. The resignation will be lifted if we reach some agreements," he was quoted as saying by the daily El Comercio's website. "There is a will on both sides and that's good," he said after a meeting between Safap and the FPF. Safap lawyer Juan Baldovino told El Comercio: "The measure could be lifted before the 20th of August, date when the FPF has to call up those Peruvian players based abroad, as long as agreements are reached. "But what is certain is that the resignation has been established." LONG-STANDING CONFLICT Much-criticised FPF president Manuel Burga was quoted on the website as saying: "(The resignation) lacks substance and validity. "If we get to an extreme measure, the players are the ones who stand to lose." Safap and the FPF have been at loggerheads for months over issues the union sees as having undermined the game in Peru, once one of the stronger footballing nations of South America. World Cup quarter-finalists in 1970 in Mexico, Peru last appeared in the finals in Spain in 1982. Although there is some way to go in negotiations for better working conditions for players, who often find themselves being owed back wages by impoverished clubs, Friday's meeting made some ground, Safap president Francesco Manassero said. "The meeting was good, we advanced quite a bit with regard to what we want although there are several points still to be resolved," Manassero told "These meetings and the federation's willingness to listen and comply with our requirements have been a point in favour of Peruvian football," he said. "It's not the union or the FPF winning, we want Peruvian football to win."