WASHINGTON, May 8, 2012 — Could the recent changes in French politics have an impact on the French soccer team? Will those millionaire French soccer players start fleeing France now that a “soak the rich,” Socialist president is in power?
Elaine Sciolino, Paris correspondent for The New York Times, talked a little soccer while commenting on Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande’s victory over President Nicolas Sarkozy, on Monday night’s “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.”
“I mean, he [Hollande] said, for example, that he wants to tax anyone who makes more than a million euros a year at a 75 percent tax rate,” Sciolino said. “Well, you know, does this mean that the whole French soccer team moves to Monaco, and Monaco wins the World Cup? People are already starting to talk about leaving France, the way they did when Francois Mitterrand was first elected president.”
It’s certainly a gem quote from Sciolino, who wrote the book “La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life,” but - to be a little picky - not entirely accurate.
Monaco does not have a national team and can’t play in the World Cup. The principality, ruled by big soccer fan Prince Albert II, has a club team - AS Monaco FC - that sits mid-table in the second tier of the French league.
What Sciolino may not realize, is that most of the notable French soccer stars already live overseas where Hollande won’t be able to get his hands on their money. Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Sami Nasri (Manchester City), Gael Clichy (Manchester City), all live in the north of England, as does Yohan Cabye (Newcastle). Eric Adidal (Barcelona), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), and Adil Rami (Valencia) are based in Spain. Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich) lives in Germany, while Louis Saha (Tottenham Hotspur), Florent Malouda (Chelsea), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Younes Kaboul (Tottenham), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Abu Diaby (Arsenal), and Djibril Cisse (Queens Park Rangers), all live in the London area, while Philppe Mexes (Milan) resides in Italy.
Monaco does sound nice. It’s a tax haven where there is no income tax. The sun-soaked tiny country boasts the world’s highest gross domestic product. According to the Daily Mail, Monaco houses over 2000 millionaires and 50 billionaires. A likely place for rich soccer players to retire to. Will Thierry Henry be Monte Carlo-bound after his days with the New York Red Bulls?
For over 20 years John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.
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