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Business

French football clubs to strike over Hollande super tax

Professional football clubs in France have decided to go on strike in protest of a government plan to slap a hefty tax on top earners. The lockdown is the first in French club football in more than 40 years.

France's professional football clubs unanimously voted in favor of not playing any matches in the league round scheduled for November 29 and December 2, the Union of Professional Football Clubs (UCPF) announced Thursday.

It is likely to be the first walkout by French players since 1972, and will effect Ligue 1 and 2 - the country's top-two flights. The club-driven move is in protest of a government plan to impose a 75 percent tax on incomes of more than one million euros ($1.38 million) on businesses, UCPF President Jean-Pierre Louvel said following an extraordinary meeting of club representatives.

“We are talking about the death of French football. That's why we are fighting and we will continue to fight,” he told a news conference in Paris.

The tax is a campaign promise of French President Francois Hollande, who pledged to curb excessive executive pay as the country's economy is struggling. The measure is supposed to be in place for two years, starting in 2013 and earning the government an estimated 420 million euros. However, the tax would cost French football clubs 44 million euros alone.

Therefore, France's professional football clubs, most of which have been struggling for years, feel threatened. Noting that it was not the players who were taxed but the clubs, Louvel said that high taxes in France were responsible for the clubs being unable to compete with other European football leagues.

The boycott is backed by French Football League (LFP) president Frederic Thiriez, who was also present at the meeting. The French football representatives will discuss their complaints with President Hollande at a meeting next week. UCPF chief Louvel said that he could not rule out further action being taken after the weekend of cancelled games.

uhe/ph (Reuters, AFP, AP)