The massive wages being paid to footballers are unacceptable in the current tough economic climate and a salary cap should be brought in, according to Italian Premier and AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi.
"Footballers' salaries are outside reality. It is necessary to introduce a salary cap," Berlusconi was quoted as saying by Italian media on Tuesday.
"They are unacceptable, distant from the real economy in which we live in a difficult time like this. They are outside every parameter."
He said he believed a European salary cap was feasible after discussing the issue with UEFA President Michel Platini.
"I think we should do like they do in the United States and reach a decision for a law to have a salary cap throughout Europe," he said. "I've spoken to Platini and I think we'll work in this direction very soon."
Berlusconi, who also denied speculation he intended to sell part of his Milam stake, said he was not taking aim at big spending Real Madrid, who lured Brazil playmaker Kaka away from his club in the close season, but at the "phenomenon" of soaring wages.
His proposal won immediate support from Lazio President Claudio Lotito but past and present players were less enthusiastic.
"You don't resolve all football's problems by reducing our salaries," said Italy captain and Juventus defender Fabio Cannavaro. "If you cut our wages, you should cut the prices of many things, starting with the tickets to the stadium."
Italian Football Federation Vice President Demetrio Albertini agreed. "We should stop blaming the footballers all the time. The issue is the system, not the players," the former Milan and Italy midfielder said. "The players earn what the club presidents offer them."