French soccer clubs have unanimously voted Thursday to go on strike next month in protest of the government's decision to impose a 75 percent tax rate on high-earners.
"There will be a weekend without matches, with an open-day in clubs" Jean-Pierre Louvel, the president of the Union of Professional Soccer Clubs, announced after the vote was taken at a meeting in Paris.
Frederic Thiriez, president of the French Professional Soccer League, which organizes the different French soccer championships, wrote a letter to the French government-sponsored Commission on Sustainable Soccer Wednesday saying "enough is enough!"
"For 18 months now, French professional soccer has been fighting, without being heard, against the 75 percent tax project", added Thiriez, saying the tax is not only unfair and discriminatory, but also threatens the clubs competitiveness and survival.
The 75 percent tax, which was one of President Hollande's election pledges, and will be levied on incomes over 1 million euros ($1.37 million) earned between 2013 and 2014, has sparked a high degree of controversy. Several high-profile French citizens, including actor Gerard Depardieu, have changed their nationalities in protest.
Fourteen clubs would be directly affected by the French tax, including Paris Saint-Germain, whose players and directors face an 44 million euros increase in their tax bills.
It is not the first time French soccer players have gone on strike. In December 1972, players went on a two-day strike that saw five out of ten games cancelled. More recently, the French national team refused to get out of the bus that had taken them to their South African training ground during the 2010 World Cup after one of the players was fired for swearing at the coach.
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This latest action, which will impact First and Second League matches on November 29 and December 2, is unlikely to garner much support from the French public opinion.
According to a BVA survey released on October 13 by Le Parisien-Aujourdh'hui en France newspaper, 82 percent of French people say they have a "bad opinion" on the French national soccer team, with 54 percent expecting them to fail to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Over three quarters of the people polled admitted still think about the South African saga.
Individual players are not spared either, as 86 percent of French people believe football players are overpaid; selfish, at 84 percent; and rude, at 73 percent.
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