France Soccer teams
French President Francois Hollande refused to bow to pressure from soccer clubs on Thursday, and told club owners he has no intention of repealing or exempting them from a law which would tax any income over 1 million at 75 percent, despite the threat from some clubs to strike and cause a match blackout later this month.
"The need to clean up public finances fully justifies this effort demanded of businesses that choose to pay such high annual salaries, " Hollande said in a statement after meeting club executives.
Hollande's determination to stick to the tax came as a slight surprise to many, as the socialist President had backpedaled recently on other fiscal fronts, like a proposed tax on trucks that was suspended this week following protests by farmers and truckers in the region of Brittany.
Pressure on France from European partners to reduce its public deficit have led to tax increases in the 2014 budget and fuelled rising discontent, with a poll showing Hollande with the lowest approval rating of any French president on record.
The Socialist government has also backed down on a proposed tax on savings, reinstated a tax break on education costs and dropped a planned new tax on business turnover, each after protests by interest groups.
But the 75 percent tax on top earners, which would run for only two years, and was a flagship pledge in Hollande's 2012 election campaign, is much more popular than other levies.
A survey by pollster OpinionWay this month showed that 85 percent of voters said they did not think football clubs should be exempted.
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.