French football goes on strike over ‘super tax’

French football goes on strike over ‘super tax’

PARIS - Agence France-Presse / Reuters
French football goes on strike over ‘super tax’

Paris Saint-Germain’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates after winning a Champions League match. French teams’ decision to walk out against the government’s ‘super rich’ tax puts his impressive performance in shade. AFP photo

French football clubs will continue their survival fight at this weekend’s league matches in the wake of a joint announcement of decision to stage strike at the end of next month in protest at a controversial super tax on player salaries.

The strike is the latest blow to Hollande, whose government is already suffering from record low popularity ratings because of high unemployment and internal bickering over everything from immigration to economic policy.

“There will be a weekend without a game at the end of the month (of November),” Jean-Pierre Louvel, the president of the professional clubs’ union, told a news conference on Oct. 24.

“It is the survival of French football that is at stake,” Louvel then told ITele.

The strike, the first since French league players protested about their contracts in 1972, will affect Ligue 1 and 2 matches on Nov. 29 to Dec 2.

The strike is supported by the players, according to their union (FIFPro) president.

“They show solidarity with the move,” Philippe Piat was quoted as saying by French sports daily L’Equipe’s website.

Ibrahimovic heroics in shade

Fourteen of the 20 Ligue 1 clubs will be affected by the tax, with Qatar-funded Paris St Germain the hardest hit while Monaco, backed by a Russian billionaire, will be exempt as they do not fall under French tax laws.

PSG, who have spent more than 200 million euros on transfers since being taken over by Qatar Sports Investments in 2011, are expected to pay some 20 million euros - just under half of the total the clubs would pay annually.

On the pitch, Paris Saint-Germain’s Swedish star Zlatan Ibrahimovic hit a majestic four goals during PSG’s 5-0 humiliation of Belgian side Anderlecht in midweek.

His form has hit new heights as the capital club stand on the brink of the Champions League knockout phase, and have a two-point lead to protect heading into Oct. 27’s away fixture at Saint-Etienne.

Monaco are the only other unbeaten side in the league but coach Claudio Ranieri must rally the troops for Oct. 27’s home match against Lyon after being held 2-2 by lowly Sochaux in their last outing.

Questions have cropped up over Monaco’s title credentials despite six wins in ten matches and after throwing away a two-goal lead at Herve Renard’s revamped Sochaux side, the match against struggling Lyon takes on added importance.

Last season’s runners-up Marseille have seen their season nosedive after losing 1-0 at Nice last week and crashing to a third straight Champions League defeat against Napoli on Oct. 22.

Elie Baup’s side have fallen seven points off the pace and have already suffered three domestic defeats but a home match against lower table Reims on Oct. 26 may be the remedy to get back to winning ways.

Bordeaux, who won the 2008 title under Blanc, have also seen their fortunes turn sour and they come into their home match against Montpellier sixth from bottom and only four points above the relegation zone.