Thursday, November 05, 2009

Yadda Yadda Yadda

I'm of the opinion, like many others, that those at the very top of the football-playing pyramid get paid rather obscenely inflated salaries. And, even if one can defend them on a market-based rationale, as folk like Simon Kuper and Joseph Stiglitz have done, one might expect the well-paid players to at least contribute their fair share in tax. Such is the thinking of the French government, which intends at the end of the season to do away with tax breaks tied to collective image rights, which limits greatly the amount of tax paid by wealthy footballers, basketball players and rugby players in France. The Spanish government has already moved to plug similar tax gaps, unsurprisingly given the shocking rise to 18% unemployment the country has experienced in the past year.

Of course, football clubs are up in arms about it, particularly as hefty salaries being paid by the big clubs are finally making French teams a force to be reckoned with in Europe, with Bordeaux and Lyon both qualified for the second-round of the Champions' League after four games and Marseille are still in with a chance of progressing. Secretary of State for Sport, Rama Yade has voiced her opposition to the measure, backing the clubs up saying it will make French clubs less competitive. Considering her immediate superior Roselyne Bachelot supports the move, it's not a smart move. And it's one that the young Yade made out of enthusiasm for her portfolio (I've read a number of interviews with her in the sporting press recently and she is rather to eager to please) rather than out of any strong point of principle. But she is bound to pay for her gaffe; Sarkozy has had it in for her ever since she refused to stand for the European elections. The junior sports portfolio was widely considered punishment and now even that is likely to be taken away from her. Le Monde says her days in Sarkozy's UMP are numbered, but it seems that the Socialist Party will intervene to save her from the dogs once she is thrown to them. The PS say they will put her at the top of the list in Hauts-de-Seine for next year's regional elections. I presume she would have to soften her opposition to tax cuts for millionaires first.