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Football does pay its way


The Madrid Association of Sports Journalists had the astute idea to hold a debate covering the game of football and its relationship with the Spanish Tax Authorities. Eight specialists held two round table sessions which were moderated by the director of Marca and myself. I was left with the conclusion that football has been firmly put under the spotlight as highly suspicious with ultimately little blame to be apportioned, or certainly no more than can be found in other walks of Spanish society. The game has become a victim of retroactive changes which have hit many players hard.

Self regulating clubs

Clemente Villaverde, development manager at Atlético Madrid and vice-president of LaLiga, mentioned a fact that we tend to forget all too much: Spanish football clubs are now self-regulating. They no longer spend beyond their means and employ tight financial controls. The outstanding debt due to the "Hacienda" as the authorities are known in Spain has been reduced from 700 million euro to 140 million and will be wiped out come 2020. Julio Senn, who is investigating Cristiano Ronaldo's case confirmed that in the past year alone, professional football paid 1,200 million euro in tax against earnings of 3,400 million. Football in general should not be judged on a handful of high profile cases.

Clement Villaverde
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Clement Villaverde

High profile cases

There have been some notorious cases of course, especially those involving Lionel Messi and the ongoing case regarding Cristiano Ronaldo. There have been others it's true, but all are resolved with acceptance and the bulk of these cases are centred around the modification in the ruling relating to image rights and payment to agents. Messi'a lawyer, Enrique Bacigalupo maintained that there is a legal insecurity which complicates matters for players and their advisers. The conclusion is that it's imperative that all grey areas are totally clarified so each individual can accept the current conditions. In the meantime we're resigned to the cliche that football fails to pay it's way and less so the games' superstars and that is not an accurate reflection.

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