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French clubs postpone plans to boycott matches

November 14, 2013

PARIS (AP) — Matches in the French league will go ahead as scheduled after clubs agreed to postpone plans to boycott a full round of games in protest at a government plans to impose a controversial super-tax on players’ salaries.

The Union of Professional Football Clubs (UCPF) met with a government mediator on Wednesday and announced Thursday that the matches for Nov. 29 through Dec. 2 will go be played.

The UCPF and the French league (LFP) had previously agreed to boycott all games in the first and second divisions for that round. The UCPF said Thursday that the boycott threat has been put on hold “indefinitely” and that games could still be called off at a later time if discussions fall through.

French President Francois Hollande has rejected the clubs’ request to alleviate the so-called 75-percent tax law on income above 1 million euros ($1.38 million) per year, telling a European Union summit that “the law must be the same for all.”

UCPF president Jean-Pierre Louvel had been adamant the boycott would go ahead but is now optimistic that the situation may soon improve.

“Last night we had a constructive discussion with (mediator) Jean Glavany,” Louvel said. “Given the current context it’s important that talks take place in the greater interest of football and solidarity.”

Louvel had called the measure “a tax too far” and “the death of French football,” saying it will cost French clubs at least 44 million euros ($60 million). It would directly hit about 10 to 12 clubs, with about 110 players in France earning more than 1 million euros. Their clubs would be taxed on amounts over that threshold.

“It would be a dramatic failure for French football, and therefore for sport, and we don’t want to envisage that,” Louvel said.

Hollande’s initial proposal called for individuals — in the case of football, the players — to pay a 75 percent tax on all income over 1 million euros. That tax was rejected by a court this year and the budget currently before parliament would instead put in place a 50 percent tax, paid by the employer.

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