Inter superstars volunteer for pay cuts
ROME (Reuters) - Inter Milan strikers Ronaldo, Christian Vieri and Alvaro Recoba, three of the world's best paid footballers, have offered to take pay cuts to help their club through the financial crisis hitting Italian football.
Inter said on their official website that the idea of the cut, of between 5-10 percent, came from Italy international Vieri, who called Brazilian World Cup winner Ronaldo who later contacted Recoba.
'We spoke to each other and decided to do something. A direct gesture, above all to make our president (Massimo Moratti) understand that we care about Inter, and we know what it means to do everything possible so that Inter can become stronger and bigger each year,' Vieri said.
'The president has supported us in every moment. And we wanted to make a concrete gesture, a gesture as Inter players.
'It doesn't count how much, we won't bring accountants into it. What is important is to take the initiative.'
Uruguayan Recoba is the best paid player in Italy, reportedly earning an annual salary of 8 million euros, although he took issue with that figure.
'Maybe it makes my father happy to know that I earn certain sums, but the amounts written in the newspapers aren't those that I earn,' he said. 'Everyone likes to earn a lot, but on my contract there is a different figure.'
NEED FOR HONESTY
But Recoba said that in times of austerity it was right that players accepted they could be paid less.
'If a club can't pay the players, then we need to be honest and accept a pay cut, for the good of everyone,' said Recoba.
Twice former World Player of the Year Ronaldo, who scored both goals in Brazil's World Cup final win over Germany, is estimated to be on a 4.5 million euros salary as well as earning a large amount from sponsorship deals.
The trio's decision came a day after Italian sports newspapers, examining the growing debt problem in the game, published detailed lists of top players' contracts and salaries.
Although Inter president Moratti has spent millions on recruiting top internationals in recent years Inter have not won the Italian title since 1989.
Last season they were pipped to the 'scudetto' by rivals Juventus on the last day of the season and came in for strong criticism from Moratti and their fans.
Moratti has spent the summer in negotiations with Lazio in an attempt to sign their Italy defender Alessandro Nesta but for once the big-spending president has been unwilling, or unable, to spend the cash needed to bring in his target.
He is not alone, for big-money transfers in the Italian game - and throughout the Continent - have been conspicuous by their absence so far in the close-season.
Although the gesture from Ronaldo, Vieri and Recoba may just be a nice piece of public relations, their cuts could help to release some cash to spend on reinforcements such as Nesta.
The move follows comments from the head of the Italian Footballers Union (AIC), Sergio Campana, that his members are ready to accept performance-related pay with automatic 20 percent cuts for players whose teams are relegated.
Players' wages have doubled in Italy over the past four years while clubs' income has barely risen, leaving many Serie A teams facing hefty debts.