The Norwegian first division is being rocked by a player strike affecting around 100 players from 9 clubs – including Valerenga, backstopped by Canadian maybe-starter Lars Hirschfeld.
The issue at hand? Well, the players don't like their boots.
Tippelegaen clubs mandate that all boots and keeper's gloves used by players be made by the clubs official kit sponsor – Kappa, in Valerenga's case. Doesn't seem too harsh on the surface – and it's not likely to garner too much sympathy from Joe Lunchbox – but in the world of professional sports the difference between "my favourite boots" and "the boots I'm made to wear" might just be something.
It's unclear at this time in Hirschfeld himself has opted to strike with his colleagues and teammates, but the question might soon be moot as the league has to decide if the weekend's matches are to be, uhh, "given the boot" pending a resolution.
To be fair, the players have also taken issue with clubs' ability to terminate player contracts, which is more standard labour-issue fare. As for the boots, the clubs appear unwilling to budge, arguing that financial ruin would come from upsetting the kit sponsors. The players, oddly, have argued health and safety concerns, the idea being, I suppose, that it's dangerous to cram Adidas feet into Umbro boots. Maybe it's just me, but a more reasonable and forthright argument would be "how well the club does and how much money it makes is directly related to how well I kick a ball, so let me wear the shoes I want so I can do that as well as possible."
But, then, I'm no labour arbitrator.
It's not a great time, really, for Canada's likely No. 1 to be missing playing time – Lars is slated to join for Les Rouges in the upcoming Gold Cup. Here's hoping the disruptions in the season don't effect Lars' form coming into the tournament.
The better news, though, is that the player's union has expressly said that the strike does not effect international play, so Lars' freedom to play for Canada is not at risk. And, presumably, Stephen Hart will let Lars wear whatever shoes he wants.