France not happy with new tax plans
Despite the French government having to re-think plans to heavily tax high earners, including footballers, those within the game in France believe the measures taken will do little to encourage high-quality performers to stay in Ligue 1.
French President Francois Hollande had made an election promise to tax all earnings over €1 million at 75%, causing an outcry from football authorities, who feared it would make Ligue 1 an unattractive destination for big-name players.
A ruling by France's Constitutional Court in late December, however, forced the government to backtrack, but although the rate could be lowered to 60%, influential French football figures feel it will make little difference.
"The damage is done. It's not by bringing the rate down to 60% that the effect of the initial announcement will be dampened down," Philippe Piat, co-president of the National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP), told L'Equipe. "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."
Frederic Thiriez, the French Football League (LFP) president, added: "I had warned everyone enough about this during the election campaign. Subsequent events have proven me right, and that 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."
The salaries of some 150 players would have been affected by the initial proposal. Jean-Pierre Bernes, agent of Paris Saint-Germain duo Jeremy Menez and Blaise Matuidi, as well as Lille captain Rio Mavuba, acknowledged players had been adversely concerned by the news.
"Of course the players would prefer to be taxed at 60% rather than 75%, it's mathematics," he said. "But it won't be key in keeping players. The best ones will still leave. The 75% tax rate, a lot of players have talked about it, because it was in the news. A small, possible reduction isn't going to reassure them."