Governments must show football's tax dodgers the red card says Oxfam

Published: 2nd December 2016

Commenting on reports today that some of the biggest names in football, including Manchester United coach, Jose Mourinho; Real Madrid star, Cristiano Ronaldo; Monaco captain, Radamel Falcao; and Arsenal player, Mesut Özil are dodging millions of Euros in taxes, Susana Ruiz, tax policy expert for Oxfam’s Even It Up Campaign said:

“This is not the first footballing tax scandal and its unlikely to be the last – wealthy individuals and big business will continue to exploit our broken tax system if governments don’t fix it.  

"When football superstars avoid paying their fair share of tax, those least able to afford it  - including many of their fans - end up paying the price.   Tax dodging hits the poorest people in our societies hardest, as governments cut funding for vital public services and increase the tax bills of ordinary people to compensate for falling revenues.

"Governments need to show tax dodgers the red card if they are to end poverty and inequality.  They must ensure all countries - especially tax havens – publish information on who owns registered shell companies so it’s harder for the super-rich to hide their wealth away. Governments must also compile a global blacklist of tax havens and take action to shut them down.”

Notes to editors

The tax dodge involves channelling revenues from the use of an individual’s image rights (from advertising etc) to shell companies in the British Virgin Islands via intermediaries in Ireland. The British Virgin Islands is a renowned tax haven. The #FootballLeaks expose was published by European Investigative Collaborations – a partnership of media organisations from across Europe. For more information see here.

Tax scandals are not uncommon in football.  In October it was reported Manchester United player, Wayne Rooney is facing a £3.5m bill from tax authorities for his part in a suspected avoidance scheme. In July this year Lionel Messi was found guilty of using tax havens to avoid paying €4.1million in taxes on earnings from his image rights between 2007 to 2009. In June, the Spanish football club Barcelona paid  €5.5m to settle a tax fraud case over the 2013 transfer of the Brazilian player, Neymar. In April, former President of UEFA, Michel Platini, and key members of FIFA's ethics committee were among those named in the Panama Papers expose.

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