France's Socialist government denounced the size of football pay on Wednesday as the big-spending club Paris Saint-Germain celebrated the arrival of striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The French club did not go public with the financial terms of the deal that lured Ibrahimovic from AC Milan but media put the annual pay at 14 million euros net of tax, in a country where incomes upwards of one million are soon set to be hit by a new super-tax of 75 percent.
French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said the 27-year-old would be taxed like anyone else and that there was no reason football players should escape the 75 percent rate promised for later this year by President Francois Hollande.
"Between you and me I think a lot of people are shocked by the income the player you are talking about will make," the spokeswoman told reporters at a briefing following a weekly government cabinet meeting.
Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron went further, saying it was time to tackle a problem of excessive pay in the football business across Europe, where most governments are struggling to prevent debts spinning out of control.
"European [football] clubs' deficits are worth 1.5 billion euros at the moment - that should be cause for thought," said the minister, who added regulations should be used to close the lid on "astronomical" pay awards.
To ensure an after-tax salary of 14 million euros a year, the Paris Saint-Germain club would need to pay in the region of 35 million euros a year under France's tax system as it stands and perhaps 70-80 million euros once the 75 percent tax rate kicks in, according to back-of-envelope estimates by fiscal experts contacted by Reuters.
That is as much as the annual budget of some small clubs in the country's leading football league.comments