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French soccer clubs to sit out matches to protest tax

Jean-Pierre Louvel (center), president of the French professional clubs union, announced clubs will sit out games to protest a new government tax. (Kenzo Tribouillard/Getty Images)

Jean-Pierre Louvel (center), president of the French professional clubs union, held a press conference on Thursday to announce that its clubs will sit out games over the last weekend of November to protest a new government tax. (Kenzo Tribouillard/Getty Images)

France's soccer clubs decided at a meeting on Thursday that they will not play matches over the last weekend of November as a sign of their protesting a temporary 75 percent marginal tax on employers that pay annual salaries above €1 million, and reps from each club will meet with France's president to further discuss the matter.

According to the Associated Press, Jean-Pierre Louvel, president of the Union of Professional Football Clubs, said the teams will not play in the league round scheduled for Nov. 29 - Dec. 2. The decision was backed by league president Frederic Thiriez, who was also at the meeting on Thursday.

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Representatives from each club will meet with French president Francois Hollande next week to work toward a solution, according to the report. Louvel said it's possible the clubs could sit out future games beyond Dec. 2 if the government does not resolve the issue with the teams. Louvel added that at stake is the "death of French football."

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"It's a historic moment for French football. The whole of football has taken a very important decision. We're talking about the death of French football. That's why we are fighting and we will continue to fight."

The move to protest the tax marks the first time since 1972 that games were boycotted in the French league.

The tax, which will be in effect for two years, is an effort by President Hollande to cut into executive pay that he believes is not in line with the struggling economy. Once implemented, it is expected to rake in $580 million, with $60 million of it possibly coming from the soccer clubs.

According to the report, the government sees the tax as a symbolic gesture -- one that has garnered widespread support throughout the country -- even though the revenue its expected to generate pales in comparison to France's $2.8 trillion economy.

Saint-Etienne president Bernard Caizzo told the AP that it's going to severely hurt most of the clubs because he said they already operate at a loss:

"Most of the clubs don't make money. They lose money, so how is it possible for the clubs to pay taxes when they don't have money left? This is the big point, instead of players paying tax, they want the clubs to pay the tax...When a (company) is losing money you try and help, not try and give a big kick on the head...Many clubs won't be able to afford this and could disappear."

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