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Opening Liga matches called off due to wage dispute impasse

Second weekend also in doubt putting in jeopardy completion of league

This weekend's scheduled opening matches of Spain's new soccer season were cancelled after the Association of Professional Footballers (AFE) and the Professional Football League (LFP) failed after a four-hour meeting to find a solution to their differences over unpaid wages and a strike called by the AFE.

"There will be no matches," the chairman of the LFP, José Luis Astazarán, said. Luis Gil, the spokesman for the AFE, said the two sides remained "far apart."

The Spanish Football Federation cancelled travel arrangements for the referees due to handle the opening matches.

The following weekend's games are also under threat, although the LFP and the AFE have agreed to meet again on Saturday and Monday.

The core of the dispute is over the AFE's demands for clubs to pay some 50 million euros in back wages owed to 200 players, with those failing to do so to be relegated to lower leagues. The LFP has offered to set up a 40-million-euro fund up to the 2014-15 season to guarantee wage payments.

The clubs face lost income from their share of bets placed on the outcome of matches and also risk claims from television companies that have paid for the rights to broadcast games.

It is not yet clear if all the 38 matches in the season can be played before the start of the European Championships in the summer in Poland and Ukraine.