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Huge Jump in Tax Investigations Against Footballers This Year; Indian Football Mourns Death of Former Bagan Skipper Manitombi Singh and More (Football Round-Up)

Short Passes (Football News Round-up): Huge jump in the number of footballers getting investigated for tax evasion in 2019-20 | Former India players mourn teammate Manitombi's untimely death, call him 'absolute fighter’ | Atletico Madrid resume training after rest of squad test negative for Covid-19 | Cold water poured on hope that German football fans can return next season | Lyon the team to beat in the Women's Champions League.
Tax investigation against footballers in the UK

With the tax rate for image rights payments are considerably lesser than salaries, players and clubs use it to avoid huge taxes. So, the HMRC has been scrutinising image rights deals.

A research conducted by the London accountancy firm, UHY Hacker Young, unearthed that over the past year the number of footballers investigated by HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs) has seen a sharp rise,  from 87 to 246 individuals.

Tax investigations of football agents has also witnessed a spike -- from 23 in 2018-19 to 55 in the year of 2019-20. 

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There is an increased scrutiny of the payments for image rights of the players -- acquired when clubs pay extra money to footballers apart from their salary to use the image for advertising and endorsement. The income tax for image rights is charged at 19%. However, the income tax rate paid by high earners in the Premier League and the Championship is 45%. HCRM claims that many footballers avoided tax using the image rights avenue. 

“HMRC believes that lots of lesser-known footballers are effectively avoiding tax by getting paid huge sums for image rights that HMRC views as overpriced,” Elliot Buss, a partner at UHY Hacker Young said. 

“The image rights of the likes of Paul Pogba and Mohamed Salah are undoubtedly worth millions of pounds a year. However, if you are second-choice left back in the Championship getting paid a great deal in image-rights payments, then this is likely to trigger an investigation by the taxman. You may have to make a robust argument to HMRC to show how the value of the image rights has been arrived at,” he added. 

Former India Players Mourn Manitombi

Former Indian football team players including Renedy Singh and Venkatesh Shanmugam expressed their grief over the death of Manitombi Singh. 

Manitombi, who played for Mohun Bagan and skippered the side as well, died after suffering from a prolonged sickness in his village near Imphal on August 9. He was 39.

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"I was really shocked to hear of his death. He was such an asset to Indian football," Venkatesh said. "I had seen him put in some really good performances on the pitch. He was an absolute fighter, but more important was the consistency that he brought in.” 

Defender Debjit Ghosh, who had played with Manitombi at Mohun Bagan, expressed his surprise over his untimely death and said, "I was very surprised to hear that he had passed away. We could all do with some good news this year, and this was certainly not one of them. He was a dear friend off the pitch." 

"As a captain, you have to often lead by example. Manitombi was that kind of a captain. He worked hard on the pitch, and that's how he inspired the rest of us,” Remedy Singh, who played under Manitombi’s captaincy, said. 

Renedy has also launched an initiative via the Football Players Association of India (FPAI) to collect funds to help support Manitombi’s wife and eight-year-old son.

Atletico Resume Training

Atletico Madrid resumed training for the final eight fixtures of the UEFA Champions League after the remaining team members tested negative for Covid-19.

It was reported on August 9 that two Atletico players, who were supposed to travel to Lisbon, for the final eight matches, tested positive for the coronavirus. 

A statement confirmed the two Covid-19 positive players were forward Angel Correa and injured defender Sime Vrsjalko. They will be kept in home isolation as they are both asymptomatic and will not join the squad for the trip.

“The first team squad and coaching staff underwent Covid-19 tests on Sunday and they all came back negative, after two positive tests were registered following the previous tests on Saturday,” Atletico’s statement said. “In keeping with health protocols, those who share a home with the two players who tested positive also received tests, which came back negative.”

“The club’s medical services have been authorised by the two players to reveal their identity in order to end speculation.” 

Stands to Remain Empty in German

Bundesliga clubs hoped to see fans return to stadiums when the new season kicks off in Germany on September 18. They are in for a rude disappointment.

Last week, 36 clubs in Germany's top two tiers agreed with a four-point proposal made by the German Football League (DFL) that planned the return of spectators in the stadium despite the pandemic. 

Clubs have agreed to consider a lot of things in lieu of public safety, including selling personalised tickets to track spectators, no alcohol in the stadium till October and fans occupying the seated areas only, with terrace seats/areas remaining empty.

The plans were put forth for approval by German government before being implemented. Dilek Kalayci, chairman of the conference of Germany's health ministrym which met Monday, set the proposal aside citing health concerns. 

"We do not intend to pass a resolution on the DFL's hygiene concept," Kalayci told newspaper Berliner Morgenpost before the conference.

"Professional football is not at the top of the health ministers' priority list."

Lyon Favourites

With as many problems as there could be, including a pandemic to stop play, Europe's top teams will compete at the Women's Champions League soon.

Defending champions Lyon will look to win their fifth straight title and are by far the team to beat. Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, Barcelona, Wolfsburg, Atlético Madrid, Bayern Munich and Glasgow City complete the quarterfinal line up.

The knockout tournament will start from August 21 in Bilbao and San Sebastian, in Spain's northern Basque Country. However, local authorities have expressed fear over the "second wave" of the coronavirus.

Unlike the men’s Champions League, the women's league will not use a format of home-and-away quarterfinals and semifinals. Three wins at neutral stadiums and the team can grab the trophy.

The final match is scheduled to take place on August 30 in San Sebastian.

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