Rome: The opening weekend in Serie A has fallen victim to strike action by players after a last-ditch bid on Friday to resolve a long-running dispute with their clubs failed.
Players' union the AIC and clubs' union the LEGA are at odds over a new collective bargaining agreement after the last contract expired at the end of the 2010-11 season.
The Serie A season had been due to get under way on Saturday.
The industrial action was confirmed by players' union president Damiano Tommasi after the clubs rejected the AIC's proposal of signing a temporary deal until June 2012.
"The LEGA hasn't accepted our proposal of a temporary deal, so in these conditions we are not going to play," Tommasi stated.
"I want to say to fans that this situation is embarrassing to us as well, our aim is not to not play but to start in the best conditions. Believe us, we tried everything."
An AIC statement added: "The players' union takes notice of Serie A's negative response to the latest proposal and confirms its intention not to take to the pitch for the opening matches of the championship."
There are two barriers to a new deal in Italy. The main one concerns the 'solidarity tax' that players are required to pay.
Club owners want the players to pay the tax themselves, but while the players agree in principle, they do not want to be the only people in Italy to pay it and are asking for a new law to be created concerning the tax.
The players also say that players in the middle of contract disputes must not be made to train apart from the main squad.
League president Maurizio Beretta told Italian news agency ANSA: "Our members were very clear, we would sign a deal only if it included the two issues under discussion, that of the solidarity contribution and of players training apart from the squad."
Italian sports minister Rocco Crimi gave his reaction to the impasse, declaring: "In the eyes of Italians this represents the most abnormal strike in the history of our country.
"We have to forget personal issues and end this unacceptable argument.
"We have to see the return of common sense to the pitch. I hope that directors and players are fully aware that this strike is a defeat for everyone."
Reaction to the strike filled the Italian airwaves and social networking sites like Twitter, where one fan described players as "spoilt brats", while another wrote "shame on you".
Serie A is the second European league disrupted by industrial action this season after players in Spain's top two divisions went on strike last weekend.