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Sports

French football clubs to strike against Socialists' 75 per cent wealth tax

media PSG player Zlatan Ibrahimovic is France's best-paid player at nine million euros per year Reuters/Francois Lenoir

France's professional football clubs are to cancel matches on the last weekend of November in protest at the government's 75 per cent tax on companies that pay any of their personnel more than one million euros per year. They say their action aims to "save football".

"We are faced with a historic movement, unanimously, with true determination to save football, with a weekend without matches at the end of November," announced the president of the professional clubs organisation, UCPF, Jean-Pierre Louvel after an emergency meeting on Thursday in Paris.

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France's first and second division clubs amassed total losses of 108 million euros in 2011-12, leading Louvel to claim that France is "the only country to tax businesses that are losing money".

The tax, a high-profile commitment during François Hollande's election campaign, would cost the 14 division one clubs' an estimated 44 million euros thanks to the incomes of 120 highly paid players.

President François Hollande is to meet club bosses next week over their demand that the

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government scrap the law, which was introduced after the Constitutional Council blocked an attempt to temporarily tax earnings over one million euros.

But Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault's office on Thursday insisted that football clubs will be treated "like any other business".

The clubs say that they will invite fans to the stadiums on the weekend in question to explain their action.

A Paris Saint Germain-Lyon match was due to be played and televised on the subscripiton channel Canal+ on the Sunday evening, possibly leaving the clubs open to

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legal action by the broadcaster.

Football professional organisations on Wednesday decided to boycott a government commission on competivity in football as part of theoir protest.

The last national football "strike" was in 1972 but in 2010 players of the national team refused to train during the World Cup in South Africa after trainer Raymond Domenech suspended attacker Nicolas Anelka.

A recent opinion poll showed 82 per cent having a low opinion of the team three years later.

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