France's budget minister outraged at PSG footballer Ibrahimovic's 'indecent' salary
Football superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic's record-breaking salary following his transfer to Paris Saint Germain has sparked an angry backlash from French politicians denouncing it as "indecent" at a time of financial hardship.
Meanwhile tax experts say that to guarantee Ibrahimovic the14 million euro net salary reportedly specified in his contract, while also complying with France’s new 75 per cent tax laws, his new club will have to pay him an enormous pre-tax salary.
On Wednesday, the 30 year old Swedish striker, who was transferred from AC Milan, was hailed by hundreds of fans chanting "Ibra! Ibra!" as he was presented to them at a ceremony in front of the Eiffel Tower.
His reported salary is the most ever paid to a player in France and Socialist politicians have reacted angrily to the figure, denouncing it as a sign of rampant excess.
The new Socialist government is insisting that Ibrahimovic will have no choice but to pay the 75-percent tax rate it intends to impose on annual salaries in excess of one million euros from next year.
"These numbers are not impressive, they are indecent," Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac told Europe 1 radio Thursday when asked about Ibrahimovic's salary.
"They are indecent at a time when everyone in the entire world is making efforts and knows the terrible consequences of an economic crisis," he said.
Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron attacked the salary as "astronomical andunreasonable" while government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said the sum "shocked a lot of people".
Vallaud-Belkacem said there was no way Ibrahimovic would "escape" from paying the 75-percent tax rate. Some ministers even rejoiced that his salary would bring so much revenue to state coffers.
"I am delighted that he will be paying taxes in France," said Benoit Hamon, a junior economy minister. "This is a demonstration that this tax was not an argument to prevent great players from coming to play in France."
Former sports minister Roselyne Bachelot of the right-wing UMP also expressed her "indignation, almost disgust" with the vast sums involved when asked aboutIbrahimovic's transfer.
And althouth President Francois Hollande, a keen football supporter, did not directly criticise the salary, he pointed to the relatively modest salaries at French league champions Montpellier as an example.
"There are teams that manage to win... without necessarily having very significant salaries," Hollande said during a visit to France's national sports institute.
PSG President Nasser al-Khelaifi told reporters Wednesday that the club's owners, Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), would follow French law when it came to paying Ibrahimovic's taxes.
"As we have already said, we respect French laws. We do it today and we will do it tomorrow. Ibrahimovic's signing is very positive for PSG but also for French football," he said.
Experts said Ibrahimovic would be required to take French residency and pay French taxes, though he might benefit from a deduction for temporary residency allowing him to cut his taxable income in half.
Hollande defeated right-wing incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in a presidential vote in May with vows to tackle France's economic problems by boosting taxes on the wealthy and spending to promote growth.
The 75-percent tax rate has been derided by the right, who say it will lead to an exodus of top earners from France while doing little to address the country's fiscal problems.