By Tony Attwood
It is a day of snippets, of bits and pieces, of oddities and vagaries.
Like the fact that having finally had a summer where he has not been playing football all the way through and so has had a proper rest, Alexis Sanchez hasn’t been able to go to the USA with Manchester United for what was called a “personal administrative issue”.
I think that translates as “they wouldn’t give him a visa”. This being due to the fact that along with a whole bunch of other players who have spent time in Spain, they have been done for tax fraud and given a suspended prison sentence.
In Alexis’ case it was a 16 month prison term, which he will serve if he is caught a second time. First time round it was for a €1m fraud relating to his image rights. And yet rather interestingly in terms of how the newspapers see Manchester United, some are calling it an “alleged fraud”.
Now normally the media in the UK report cases as “alleged” until the defendant is found guilty by the court, after which the defendant is a “convicted fraudster” or a “convicted murderer” or whatever. That is right – it is right to treat a person as innocent until proven guilty. It is a central part of our democracy, and by and large I am rather in favour of democracy.
Alexis Sánchez’ agent confirmed in February that the player had admitted his guilt and accepted a prison sentence. So he is guilty. He has said so. However since then he has said that the Spanish authorities “forced him” to sign, just as other fraudsters such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have done.
The reality is that whatever country one lives in, one is bound by the laws of that country, and if you don’t want to be, it is probably best to try and move to another country. Footballers have a great luxury in this regard since most of us don’t have the ability to pick and choose which country we live in. Alexis had that choice. He chose Spain, and he chose as his employer a company that has had several runs in with the authorities both in terms of football (as when they were banned from signing anyone) and with the tax authorities.
After that players also have a second luxury – a salary that normally means that they are paid more a week than most of us are paid in three or four years.
And yet with all that, they choose to take a chance of tax evasion schemes which they must know (because they can’t be utterly stupid) run the risk of being seen as fraud. It is entirely a matter of choice.
As a person who pays his tax each month and each year on time, I do find it a little annoying to feel any sympathy with people who can earn far, far more than me then not only engage in dubious practices to avoid tax, but finally complain when they are caught and sentenced. And I would say that about any current Arsenal players as much as against past Arsenal players.
Even the dumbest person must know that countries expect tax to be paid and will go looking if it is not. In Alexis’ case it was claimed and accepted by the player that he had used a company based in Malta to receive image rights as a way of avoiding tax.
Messi, Mourinho, Mascherano, Christiano Ronaldo… they have all gone down the same route. The defence was that the contract concerning image rights had been used for years but the state had not prosecuted. Which is rather like me saying, “I’ve been driving this road to work for 25 years and broken the speed limit every day. Now today you’re fining me for breaking the speed limit. That’s unfair.”
No, as an argument, that’s pathetic.
Meanwhile in other news the latest rumour is that Arsenal are after Max Meyer who is available on a free transfer. He’s an attacking midfielder who is 22 years old and has played 146 games for Schalke 04 since 2013.
The other other news is rather a repeat of last week’s other news, in that Welbeck and Ospina could leave Arsenal.
Danny Welbeck is, like Ramsey, is in the last year of his contract. The other tips in the media for players to depart are the names we’ve heard a number of times…
- Lucas Perez
- Carl Jenkinson
- Chuba Akpom
- Joel Campbell
However Perez and Jenkinson did play against The Wood (wrongly referred to in some papers as Borehamwood, whereas in fact it is Boreham Wood). But then so did Reiss Nelson, Ainsley-Maitland-Niles, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Eddie Nketiah, Emile Smith-Rowe, Jordi Osei-Tutu and Joe Willock.
Whether we can keep all of them, I am not sure, but I would hope so, even if it means releasing all four of the players listed above. Of course one only sees glimpses of these players through such games, but I would say surely Nelson must stay, Maitland-Niles has a new contract, Eddie was brilliant in the summer tournament, Jeff looked powerful in his short appearance after such a long lay-off through injury… I could make a case for all of them to be given a chance.
But for Danny and Oooooospina, I suspect they will be moved on.
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