Fiat workers call for strike over Ronaldo transfer

There are few things in the sport of soccer that could upstage a World Cup semifinal between European powerhouses France and Belgium. The announced transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid to Juventus, however, is apparently one of them.

The soccer world was rocked Tuesday by the news that the Portuguese superstar will be moving to the Italian giant on a $117M transfer. But not everyone in Italy sees the capture of Ronaldo purely as a coup for Italian soccer. In fact, the Italian labor union that represents workers at the Fiat plant in the southern city of Melfi has announced a strike over Ronaldo’s move to Serie A.

At first glance, it might seem unusual that auto workers would want to strike over the transfer of a soccer player. That is until you factor in the Agnelli family.

The Agnellis are wealthy Italian industrialists who own a majority share of Juventus and boast an automotive portfolio that reads like a who’s who of the international automobile industry. In addition to owning Ferrari, Lancia, Alfa Romeo and Chrysler, the family known as the “Italian Kennedys” also owns a controlling interest in Fiat.

Part of the deal that will see Ronaldo become the most expensive signing in the history of Serie A apparently involves Fiat shouldering some of the cost, including the player’s purported $35M salary, in exchange for him becoming a brand ambassador for the car manufacturer.

A picture taken on July 11, 2018 shows a saleswoman making the shop window with a Cristiano Ronaldo Juventus jersey in a shop in Turin. (Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 11, 2018 shows a saleswoman making the shop window with a Cristiano Ronaldo Juventus jersey in a shop in Turin. (Getty Images)

According to a statement from the Union Sindicale de Base, which represents the Fiat workers, it’s simply unacceptable that Fiat would help foot the bill for the Ronaldo transfer while workers at the company are under-compensated and often struggle to make ends meet.

“It is unacceptable that, while for years you have continued to ask FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) and CNHI (Case and New Holland Industrial) workers to make enormous sacrifices on an economic level, the company spends hundreds of millions on the purchase of a footballer,” read the statement in part.

The statement goes on to say that “we are told that times are tough and that we must resort to social safety nets in anticipation of the launch of new models which never arrive.”

“And, while the workers and their families tighten their belts more and more the company decides to invest a lot of money on a single human resource. Is this all right? Is it normal for a single person to earn millions and thousands of families do not reach the middle of the month?”

The statement concludes by calling for a strike at the Fiat plant in Melfi from Sunday, July 15 until Tuesday, July 17.

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