Ibrahimovic's PSG salary 'disgusts' French politicians
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The ‘astronomical’ salary French football club PSG are to pay Zlatan Ibrahimovic continued to cause outrage in France on Thursday. But with the country set to impose a 75% tax rate on top earners, some ministers are welcoming his arrival.
France’s budget minister on Thursday joined a lengthening list of politicians lining up to condemn the ‘indecent’ salary Paris Saint-Germain are to pay their new striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Ibrahimovic, who was signed from AC Milan in a deal worth a reported €20 million, was paraded at a press conference in front of the world’s media on Wednesday. The Sweden international striker sat alongside PSG’s director of football Leonardo and club president Nasser al-Khelaifi, the Qatari businessman who has pumped millions into the club since taking over last summer.
Although the club did not release the financial details of the three-year deal it has been reported in the French media that the 30-year-old former Barcelona player will receive an eye-watering salary of around €14 million a year after tax – a record-breaking sum for French football.
At a time when France’s economy is stuttering to a standstill and unemployment is on the rise, the player’s wages have left a sour taste in the mouths of many of the country’s politicians.
“These wages disgust me”
On Thursday, France’s budget minister Jerôme Cahuzac took to the airwaves to air his disgust at the ‘indecent’ amount that will be paid to the striker.
“At a time when everyone around the world is tightening their belts, these figures are not impressive, they are indecent,” he told Europe1 radio. “Sport is not about paying a player €15 million a year,” he added.
Cahuzac was not the first politician to unleash his anger in the direction of PSG and football in general.
“These wages make me indignant and almost disgust me,” said former sports minister Roselyne Bachelot this week. “The amount is incredible when you consider that our smaller football clubs are fighting like dogs just to survive.”
Current Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron described the sum as “astronomical and unreasonable”.
“These wages are a reflection of everything that is deplorable about football,” she said, adding that it was time a cap was imposed on players’ wages.
Ibrahimovic becomes big-spending PSG’s third major signing of the summer following the arrivals of his AC Milan team mate Thiago Silva, for a reported €45 million, and Argentine forward Ezequiel Lavezzi. But after spending over €100 million this summer, PSG insisted on Wednesday the cheque book was now closed.
In a thinly veiled barb at the Paris club, Fourneyron also stressed the importance of European football governing body UEFA’s new “financial fair play” rules which will force clubs to break even. Fourneyron said the regulations will help prevent clubs “buying victories”.
“I am delighted he will pay his taxes in France”
But politicians also recognise there are benefits of PSG’s star signings coming to ply their trade in France, not least the fact the country’s coffers are set to be given a welcome boost in tax revenue at a time when they are running on empty.
President François Hollande and his socialist government are on the verge of introducing a 75% tax rate for those earning over €1million per year, meaning the Swedish international will be handing over a fair chunk to the French state.
Government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said it was only “natural” the player paid an “exceptional” level of tax.
“There’s no reason why sports people should be exempt from the 75% tax bracket,” she said. “It is natural that he contributes to the collective effort.”
With opponents of the tax arguing it will scare wealthy French footballers and other nationals abroad and prevent businesses investing in France, Ibrahimovic’s signing is a timely and symbolic shot in the arm for the advocates of the levy.
“I am over the moon that Ibrahimovic is going to pay his taxes in France,” said government minister Benoit Hamon.
“This is a demonstration that the 75 percent tax bracket would not prevent big players from coming to play in France.”
In order to pay Ibrahimovic €14 million a year, it has been estimated that PSG will have to shell out a further €21 million per year to the French state in taxes and social charges.
And if the new 75% tax bracket is passed, tax lawyers have calculated that Ibrahimovic could end up costing the French club a total of €80 million a year in wages and taxes.
"We respect French laws"
PSG were eager to play down the controversy surrounding their new player and his salary.
“We have already stated that we respect the French laws,” the club’s president told the media on Wednesday, when quizzed about the tax. “We do that today and we will do it in the future. The signature of Ibrahimovic is positive for PSG and for French football.”
After having paid out such an eye watering figure for the player, the trophy starved club will be hoping their new signing will lead the team to glory in the cash rich Champions League.