Absa Premiership

SAFPU hits out: Tax system not fair on footballers

2018-02-16 08:01
Brent Carelse (Gallo Images).

Cape Town - The South African Football Players Union (SAFPU) has called on all stakeholders to take proactive steps in ensuring the financial security of players once they retire.

There have been many examples of players who hit rock bottom after retirement due to them being ill-equipped to handle their finances.

SAFPU recently hit out at the exorbitant amounts that players are taxed as it feels this is not fair due to the short career span of a professional soccer career.

A SAFPU statement read: "SAFPU has undertaken an initiative to challenge the status quo regarding the taxation imposed on sports people, and footballers in particular. The system is not fair to sports people even though they contribute millions in tax while they play the game. The system forces them to retire with nothing.

"While other citizens in the country get their returns in a form of a pension fund which is a tool that does not exist in football, which is unfair and abusive on our part. We want a Special Sport Tax to be introduced to give footballers a comfortable exit like everybody else in society, which will assist them for life after football.

"This taxation system was not designed to cater for everyone and as a result, footballers are exploited... The system forces our sporting heroes to live in abject poverty when their careers come to an end and SAFPU is calling for a special tax dispensation in sports."

Sport24 spoke to SAFPU representative and former Bafana Bafana international Brent Carelse on how the soccer fraternity can better look after its soccer heroes.

Carelse strongly feels that all stakeholders, such as the government and the Premier Soccer League (PSL), should better equip players to manage their financial futures.

"We can't call ourselves one of the top financial leagues in the world yet our players die every day in poverty, Carelse said.

"We belong to the world player's union which is FIFPro who supports all the initiatives we do for the players. The issues we're raising in South Africa is done all over the world for footballers such as what the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) does in the UK.

"The thing about tax in our country is that players are payed quite a lot of money, the same as say a lawyer or CEO of a company and they are taxed quite a bit of money. Sometimes even more as that CEO depending on endorsement deals and signing-on fees.

"But in terms of the football business a player is not getting anything out of it for the short amount of years he spends in the business.

"Whereas that lawyer or CEO of a company has a retirement or pension fund to the value of millions, yet everybody else in football is making vast sums of money."

The former Ajax Cape Town midfielder also hit out at the PSL for the lack of structures put in place to financially assist players for once they call time on their careers.

"Other leagues around the world set up pension fund schemes, such as the PFA does but it's done with the assistance of the league," Carelse added.

"The reason why I say that is because players fall under the league, clubs fall under the league including everybody else so we are all working for the PSL.

"So the PSL should contribute as well, we're not saying that the players won't contribute, we're just saying that this is something that they need to look into.

"We're also educating our players about this because it's more for them that we can get a pension fund for all players so that once you sign up as a professional footballer you immediately go into that pension scheme for once your playing days are over and you retire at a certain age, maybe 35-years-old, because players don't play until they're 55 or 65-years-old."

The now retired footballer also spoke bluntly on the dangers that players face when adjusting to life after football.

"It's hard hey, when you're playing as a professional footballer and you're on TV and everybody knows you in the community you're looked up to as a hero.

"So when you're done playing people don't see or hear about you anymore and you have to pick yourself up. Other players plan what they’ll do after their playing days. But there are many who unfortunately it just happens to like that.

"In football there are also not a lot of jobs, because only one guy can be a coach or physio, that's why we are trying to help current players educate themselves through bursaries we provide or coaching courses.

"At the end of the day it's difficult because you live your entire life from around 17 to 35-years-old just playing football, that's all you know then all of a sudden the next thing you know you're sitting at home not knowing what to do.

"It is a drastic change especially emotionally because you're always part of a group working towards one goal so there's a camaraderie and friendship built from that common goal.

"So once that (playing career) ends it's all done and that's not nice."

Read more on:    absa premiership  |  soccer
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