Football Calls for Social Contract with Government Ahead of Elections: Five Key Areas for Cooperation

With the elections in sight, professional and amateur football are calling on politicians for more cooperation in five areas. They call it a ‘social contract with the government’. “But we don’t ask for any money,” says Pro League CEO Lorin Parys.

Question 1: Support the volunteer

The Flemish clubs number 56,000 volunteers. A huge number. “But many volunteers drop out over time due to the low compensation and limited free time,” says amateur federation Voetbal Vlaanderen. “In addition, more than a third of clubs are having difficulty recruiting referees, and a quarter are experiencing a shortage of trainers.”

It is one of the reasons why federation chairman Pascale Van Damme says: “This social contract is especially important for our children and young people.”

The amateur federations call for less administrative burden, but also for the legal status of volunteers to be reviewed. “And we would like regional authorities to be able to allocate resources for a facilitator to help amateur clubs with the increasing administrative burden – like a library worker does for the cultural sector.”

Furthermore, Voetbal Vlaanderen wants to focus more on the recruitment and training of referees.

Question 2: Support infrastructure expansion

Federal CEO Piet Vandendriessche: “A study by Deloitte shows that our stadiums are a third older than the average stadium in Europe. It also takes too long to obtain a permit: five years in Flanders, even longer in Brussels. We are not asking for an exception, but we are asking for a faster and more transparent procedure.”

Amateur football also requires more space for youth football. “There are already enormous waiting lists,” says Jorg Keldermans, chairman of Voetbal Vlaanderen. “To reduce this, we need more – and more modern – infrastructure. It is a shame that young people cannot play football because there is not enough space.”

Federal CEO Piet Vandendriessche. © Photo News

Question 3: More safety in the stadiums

Hooliganism is an often recurring topic in professional football. It costs the clubs and taxpayers money, and at times makes it unsafe to enter a stadium.

Pro League CEO Lorin Parys: “We want to make the stadium safe for the vast majority of fans who never cause problems.” He talks about ‘the three percent’ – the number of fans who spoil it for the rest. “Can we make GAS fines possible with immediate collection? Can we view the list of stadium bans – including photos? Today this is not possible due to privacy legislation. We want to make checks possible using biometric facial recognition, but that is not yet allowed.”

Minister of Justice Paul Van Tigchelt indicates that he is open to this. “We must be able to apply biometrics in a smart way. In the port of Antwerp, for example, biometric control is mandatory for the cocaine-sensitive quays. The privacy legislation does not say that it is impossible, but a strict legal framework is required within which it can be used.”

Question 4: Discuss the tax regime

It has been a much-discussed theme in recent years: the favorable social security regime for professional athletes, which particularly benefits football with its high wages. Thanks to a capped salary of 2,500 euros gross, they paid around 940 euros in social contributions every month until 2021, regardless of whether their salary was 2,500 euros or 250,000 euros.

Minister of Finance Vincent Van Peteghem was already tinkering with that favorable regime. In broad terms, it means that professional athletes who earn less than 2,474.22 euros per month will no longer have to pay social security contributions in the future. This means that they gain 323 euros every month. Those who earn more pay a social security rate of approximately 5 percent on their gross salary.

In the meantime, clubs are no longer allowed to reinvest 80 percent but 75 percent of their withholding tax liability in youth and infrastructure.

Lorin Parys. © Photo News

“The new arrangement resulted in 28.6 million euros in additional recurring costs per season,” says Pro League CEO Lorin Parys. “Over the next five years, professional football will pay almost 200 million in additional taxes.” In absolute figures, para-fiscal government support remains the same: around 200 million, De Morgen calculated.

“It is important to be able to count on a stable fiscal and social framework to maintain the competitive position of our football,” says Parys. He asks for the current rules to be maintained.

Question 5: Fight against piracy

Belgian football is watched en masse but also illegally. Figures from the Audovisual Anti Piracy Agency (AAPA), an international organization that fights digital piracy, indicate that Belgians often return to an illegal stream. 5.4 percent of the population of our country committed piracy in 2021. The European average is almost 1 percent less at 4.5 percent, says the AAPA. A number that will only increase due to increased digitalization.

As a result, football loses out on 133.5 million euros per year. And the government cannot collect around 23.5 million euros in VAT. Pro League CEO Lorin Parys: “It would be interesting if the government creates a body that can help combat piracy. For example, by immediately blocking illegal live streams, as is already happening in France or the Netherlands, among others.”

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2024-04-22 09:33:53
#Remarkable #football #addresses #politics #collectively #asks #social #contract #government #Football

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