Back in November they embarrassed an entire country when they managed to compel Estonia to a goalless draw. On the other hand, it was an historical achievement for the small Italian republic set on the Pennines of the Boot.
With the international break at the doors, San Marino are preparing to travel to Lubiana to clash with Slovenia. Or maybe not.
On Monday the 16th and Tuesday the 17th of March, the San Marino internationals refused to enter the pitch for one of the trainings ahead of the European Qualifiers campaign resuming next week.
A strike that threatened to be extended also to the away trip.
In fact, San Marino footballers were ready to refuse to travel to Lubiana with painful consequences for the San Marino football association (FSGC): ban for the San Marino national team, all points deducted (meaning the only point gathered against Estonia at the San Marino stadium) and all matches results obtained during the current Euro 2016 campaign cancelled (article 27 from UEFA Euro 2016 regulations)
At the same time, the FSGC was ready to confirm the game and contact each player one by one to ask their availability to travel in an attempt to break the opposition of the ASC (San Marino Footballers Association) into factions.
Founded only in June 2014, the ASC aim is to bring the voice of the footballers to the San Marino FA as it happens in other football countries where similar 'trade unions' protect the players' rights and demands. In a press release, the FSGC was accused of not taking into consideration the ASC and the fact was confirmed by the San Marino FA trying to bybass the association and speak directly to the players. A behaviour the ASC labelled as 'illogical' and 'unfair' confirming that all footballers are united behind the same demands.
The issue seems to come from the compensations San Marino players receive from the FSGC. ‘Do you want an example?’ asked legendary striker Andy Selva to San Marino media outlet San Marino RTV. ‘It’s not fair that for an away trip to a friendly game at Liechtenstein, all you get is 60€ gross and you need to ask two days of holidays from work.’ Andy Selva is also the vice-president of the ASC. 'We have presented some projects back in September, and still we haven't got a reply. They are not willing to discuss anything,' added the San Marino captain on the 14th of March. Andy Selva said they want to help the tiny country’s football to grow: ‘we want to collaborate to improve our football. If an important player has never come out of our organization during the past 30 years, there must be a reason. We don’t want to impose our rules, but to discuss. We have a project we want to present to the FA.’
The ACS chairman, Gian Luca Bollini, confirmed that the FA has not been open to dialogue.
On the other hand, the FSGC chairman reply was quite firm: ‘it’s an absurd strike,’ said Giorgio Crescentini ‘if these gentlemen want to destroy San Marino football movement, be my guest! They won’t travel to Slovenia? Fine, we will withdraw all teams from the international competitions. We don’t accept to be blackmailed by anyone. They are causing damages to the country and its football movement at international level.’
Compromise with the state mediation
Notwithstanding the tough words spoken by the FSGC chairman, the parties have managed to reach a compromise thanks to the mediation work done by the Sport Minister of the Republic, Teodoro Lonfernini.
The ASC has revoked the strike and the national team will resume trainings today.
FSGC and ASC will meet to discuss starting from the 13th of April.
The trip to Slovenia is safe and so is the point earned against Estonia in November.