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Colombian footballers on strike

Deportivo Pereira players have joined in a spate of strikes by footballers looking to put pressure on first Colombian division clubs over unpaid salaries.

Deportivo Pereira players have joined in a spate of strikes by footballers looking to put pressure on first Colombian division clubs over unpaid salaries.

Deportivo Pereira players have joined in a spate of strikes by footballers looking to put pressure on first division clubs over unpaid salaries. The Pereira squad signed a letter threatening not to turn out for today's home match against Cortulua because the club are three and a half months behind with salary payments. "The money they promised has not appeared so we won't play," Gustavo Victoria, the team captain, told reporters yesterday.

"This situation hurts us a lot but the directors always tell us they'll pay us the next week and they've had us like that for some time," his teammate Jhon Viafara added. Earlier this week, 19 players of Once Caldas ended a two-day strike when their club, South American champions in 2004, agreed to a plan of gradual payment of unpaid salaries. A strike threat by players of America, one of Colombia's biggest and most successful clubs, met with partial success when they received part of their unpaid salaries, but Jorge Bermudez, their coach and a former Colombia defender, was sacked for backing them.

In Europe, Ottmar Hitzfeld, Switzerland's coach, said they may stop playing home matches at St Gallen after fans jeered Alex Frei, the team's captain and record scorer, during Friday's friendly against Australia. Some fans in a 14,660 crowd at the AFG Arena turned on Frei after he missed a 60th-minute penalty in a 0-0 draw. "The public reaction after Frei's penalty miss saddened me. Alex doesn't deserve such treatment," Hitzfeld said after the game. "Now we have to consider where we choose to play our next home games."

Fans in the northern city of St. Gallen have previously jeered home players. When the AFG Arena first hosted an international in May 2008 - a 3-0 victory over Liechtenstein - fans targeted forward Marco Streller, another Basel player. Frei and Streller can expect a warmer welcome on Tuesday, if fit and selected to face England at their home St Jakob Park stadium when Switzerland begin their qualification campaign for Euro 2012.

In Asia, Japan went some way to avenging their World Cup exit this year by beating Paraguay 1-0 yesterday thanks to a second-half Shinji Kagawa goal. Kagawa's clinical 64th-minute finish proved the difference in front of 65,000 fans in Yokohama. "We lost to them at the World Cup so it's good that we got some payback," Kagawa told reporters. Paraguay beat Japan on penalties in the last 16 of the World Cup in South Africa after a scoreless 120 minutes.

* Agencies

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