Belgium Invades France (and football)

Unfinished but readable

And here is the news

All through the night Belgian troops have been pouring across the border following Belgium’s déclaration of war against France.

The Vatican has confirmed the élection of Gérard Depardieu as the new Pope.

Share prices on the Paris stock exchange fell to an all time low as France was officially declared bankrupt

More on those stories later, first the sports news … FOOTBALL

For terms of reference we are not talking about American football – where men dress in armour plated sumo costumes and play a stop/start game that  looks like a pale version of rugby. NO ! We are talking FOOTBALL – what the Brits like to call « the beautiful game » and what those across the Atlantic refer to as Soccer

It was on Saturday 26th October, that Prince William was the guest of honour at the Connaught Rooms in London where the Football Association were celebrating their 150th anniversary.  In the same room on October 26th 1863, fifteen football clubs got together and drew up the first official rules of football – though they only made 13 rules – and since then …

Football has achieved world domination. It’s like the Irish pub, there probably isn’t a town in the world that doesn’t have an Irish pub. There probably isn’t a town in the world that doesn’t have a football team (male or female) (YES, I did check and there is an Irish pub in  Oulan Bator – it’s called the Grand Khan )

The Mongolian capitalm also has a football team, FC Ulaanbaatar – they even have their own facebook page – )

In France, football (or soccer) has achieved total media domination. No matter that Belgian forces have crashed through the French border and are poised to take Paris. No one cares if  Mr Depardieu is Pope – all that matters is football, the next half hour will be dedicated to the « ballon rond » (as the French call it)

Now compared to their English, Italian and Spanish counterparts, a lot of French premier league teams  are just a little « provincial ». What are Auxerre or Reims compared to Arsenal, Chelsae, AC Milan or FC Barcelona ? (You’ve probably never even heard of these French teams which is a bit like all those German teams with multi syllable unpronouncable names.) Now, I won’t be totally négative about French football – Lyons and Marseilles have reasonable teams. However as it does in all other fields, Paris also dominates the footballing headlines . Not a day goes by without news of  the Paris St Germain (PSG)– the capital’s greatest (and only football team.)  The PSG are always headline news, even in the main prime time daily evening news bulletins. Only the PSG could dislodge the impending doom facing France from the headlines. Now, seeing as 80% of the French don’t actually live in Paris, why do we always get non stop PSG ????

Just a pause for footballing thought – How come  a vibrant world city like Paris only has one football club, whereas London has (I’m counting) … eight or nine teams, four of which are in the Premier League. Well, it is not the purpose of this post to comment on the lack of Parisian teams, rather though to comment on footballers’ salaries and the vast tax that is about to be levied on them.

Here’s the news wire from France 24 (the French CNN)

« France’s top tier football clubs will go on strike at the end of November in an act of protest against the government’s plans to impose a 75 percent tax on earnings over one million euros, the country’s Union of Professional Football Clubs (UCPF) said on Thursday* .  – There will be a weekend without a game at the end of the month (of November**),” Jean-Pierre Louvel, the UCPF president, told a news conference. “People will be welcome in our stadiums, but there will be no games.” »

*(24 October 2013)

**The strike will affect Ligue 1 and 2 matches from November 29 to December 2.

A football free weekend. Oh what joy !  But how are the Frech news programmes going to fill up their schedules, Presumably they might have to report on proper new – something  at which they are notoriuosly incompétent. BUT imagine the répercussions on a wider family scale. How many males of the species will spend time with the kids rather than watching the match ? How many babies will be conceivedwhen there are no late night highlights to be rebroadcast ? With what we will fill the idle hours when there is no football to fill, them ? Will we suddenly h&ave hours of commentary on Pétanque or basketball or curling ? Will fans of football be looking for balls elsewhere ? IT MUST HAVE A BALL IN IT OR IT ISN’T SPORT. Will we have non stop table tennis commentaries all weekend ?

So let us go back to the 2012 French Presidential élection campaign. The campaign that anyone could win as long as they weren’t Sarkozy. The campaign where everyone voted against Sarkozy but didn’t necessarily vote for François Hollande … AND the campaign where  « It were François wot won it », though he was a little flustered when he did, because all the promises he had made to get elected, he suddenly realised couldn’t be honoured.

So I refer to a François Hollande élection speech in May 2012 in Paris where the future President said « Je n’aime pas les riches » (I don’t like the rich) – much applauded by the bussed in and banner-waving cohorts. Monsieur Hollande’s vesrion of « rich » were  households earning over €4000 per month – pretty much all of the French middle classes) Now , Mr Hollande isn’t poor. He earns around 19,000Euros per month, which, by his previous définition, puts him in the Jetset league.

So, another of Mr Hollande’s promises/threats (dépends where you stand) was, to tax all one million per month earners at 75% (RAPTUROUS APPLAUSE FROM THE FAR LEFT AND SCREAMS OF INDIGNATION FROM THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY ) Erm Hollande got it wrong, so he re-announced later that it would be up to employers to pay the super wealth tax one one million plus employees. More idignacious screams from buiness leaders and then a ruling from the French Constitutional Court that the 75% tax was actually « ILLEGAL ».  So we get a new version to satisfy the nouveaux riches, and not football supporting socialist supporters « TAX FOOTBALL PLAYERS » – and why not. ?

The PSG  (tsar),or star striker ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC, gets a cool 14 million Euros a year. Why not swipe away 75% of his income, after all, he only really works for 90 minutes a week. But he desreves his money. He scores goals and draws in the punters ? He’s just doing his job.

So, there comes a new development –  It won’t actually be the players who pay the super tax, it will be up to the club – and here the nation’s football bosses are up in arms because they will have to pay whacking tax bills based on the current salaries they pay their players . SO, PAY THE PLAYERS LESS, but then they won’t get such good players and the high flying clubs will go down if they can’t get decent players …

OKay, I have to go for dinner – so I ‘ll post this as it is (unchecked and unfinished) and finish another day