French football officials have stated the government’s proposed ‘super tax’ plans have already caused irreversible damage to the domestic game, despite the rejection of the initial plans.
The French Football League (LFP) in December hailed the news that the country’s top constitutional body had rejected plans by the Socialist government to introduce the controversial tax that League president Frederic Thiriez had previously warned could lead to the “death of French football”. The government of President Francois Hollande had sought to introduce a 75% upper income tax rate that would have applied to anyone earning in excess of Eur1 million per year. The new tax was seen as a means to aid the ailing French economy, but the LFP had repeatedly expressed its concern that its effect on a host of Ligue 1’s top stars could have led to a talent drain from France’s top flight.
France’s Constitutional Council ruled the temporary two-year tax rate, which had been due to take effect next year, was unconstitutional because it differed from other forms of income tax through its application to individuals instead of whole households. The government is now expected to lower the tax rate to 60%, but senior football officials believe that top players have already been deterred from playing in France. Philippe Piat, co-president of the National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP), told L’Equipe: “The damage is done. Bringing the rate down to 60% will not dampen down the effect of the initial announcement. They should have thought more about it before. The news of this 75% rate of tax went right around Europe. And the rate still remains enormous.”
Thiriez added: “I had warned everyone enough about this during the election campaign. Subsequent events have proven me right, and French football was within its rights to lead the battle. It’s better to move on now. There’s been enough of this chronic fiscal instability, which is destabilising French businesses and football.”