Friday, 14 October 2011

Rafael Nadal - shut up and pay your tax

As more and more of us slip into poverty as jobs and benefits are cut, spare a thought for Rafael Nadal - the snarly but dodgy-kneed ball-chaser is also rebelling against the government's policies.

Poor Rafael lamented yesterday:
"The tax regime from the UK is complicating a lot of things ... The problem is I can lose money if I go [to Queen's] to play for one week. It is really tough what is happening today in the UK with the tax"

Nadal earned just $27.5m in 2009 (Sports Illustrated). In tennis earnings alone this year he has made $6.3m according to

Nadal takes issue with the UK tax law which means overseas athletes are taxed on their worldwide endorsement earnings for every day they spend in Britain. What this means is that if Nadal spends three weeks of every year in the UK, then he will be taxed that proportion (i.e. 21/365ths) of his global endorsements in the UK at 50%.

So if Nadal makes $20m in global advertising deals. He will be taxed 21/365ths of that at 50%, which would be $0.57m. By arguing against this tax, Nadal is pretending that playing in the UK does nothing to boost his value to advertisers. In other words the UK market is worth nothing - which is ironic considering every other London bus currently sports a picture of him in Armani pants or jeans.

According to the Independent, the tax has already caused athletes like Usain Bolt not to compete in the country. That false start, such a shame.

If my living was running after a tennis ball - something dogs do gleefully in parks for free - while getting paid $27m per year, I might be a little more circumspect about complaining at having a tiny fraction of my enormous wealth used to fund schools, hospitals, roads, etc.

p.s. you can contact him on Twitter at @RafaelNadal

Perhaps UK Uncut could send Rafa a message when he plays at the O2 later this year?


  1. Nadal would stand to lose financially if he doesn't get far enough in the UK tournaments (Queen's Club, Wimbledon, World Tour Finals). Why would any professional sportsperson choose to lose money? It makes no sense and is counter-productive.

    As for paying taxes, Nadal already does that in Spain and on his tournament winnings and appearance fees elsewhere in the world. He still resides in his home of Manacor, Majorca and hasn't gone to reside in a tax haven, like some players have.

    There's a lot more to this than meets the eye.

  2. Why should Rafa fund England's schools and hospitals? He pays significant taxes in Spain to fund his own country's facilities (plus he contributes generously to charities that fund schools and social projects around the world). By your calculation he has paid British taxes of a half million dollars for several years already but you want more? Do you think it's your responsibility to fund Spain's hospitals and roads if you visit their country for a couple of weeks?

  3. Nadal has said that he has no problem paying taxes to the Inland Revenue when it comes to the prize money and appearance fees he has won from tournaments played in the UK, but with the tax on his worldwide sponsorship endorsements. This particular tax law has been in force for several years now and leads to Nadal having less money when he leaves the UK compared to when he arrived in the country. This is rather contrary to the whole concept of a professional tennis player, who's job is to make some money while playing their sport, not to lose money.

    With this in mind, where is the incentive to show up if it's a non-mandatory tournament like Queens and you can go to Halle instead and not lose money?

    This is another divide and conquer tactic by the capitalist authorities. Successful professional sportspeople with millions in the bank get little sympathy from the public while the public are struggling to make ends meet and are seeing their working and living standards to keep the bourgeoisie in profit.

    As a result of this, professional sportspeople are easy targets for the super-rich multinationals while those same multinationals continue to dodge billions in tax.

  4. ^^^^

    Sorry, I missed out a few words in my post. That should say:

    Successful professional sportspeople with millions in the bank get little sympathy from the public while the public are struggling to make ends meet and are seeing their working and living standards cut in order to keep the bourgeoisie in profit.

  5. Well I am from the UK and I support Rafa all the way. The taxation system in the UK is iniquitous. Nadal pays tax in his own country, which cannot be said for many tennis and other sports personalities and he has never objected to paying tax on the earnings that he makes from winning matches played in the UK. He has also until now payed tax in the UK on his worldwide earnings from endorsements. He like the rest of us has a right to protect his income. Just because he is a millionare is no reason to expect him to work and end up being substantiallyworse off.

  6. Anonymous, love your posts ! Desperate stuff.

    1. Nadal does not lose financially by playing in England. By playing in England he enhances his marketability to sponsors. If he never played in England his attractiveness to sponsors would diminish and so would the value of his sponsorship deals. Nadal can avoid paying this tax by not playing in the UK. See if he's as valuable to his sponsors if he doesn't. He'd lose far more by not playing in the UK.

    2. Yes, he's not as bad as the likes of Lewis Hamilton who now resides in Switzerland.

    3. Yes many tourists do pay city taxes (e.g. Amsterdam has one) when they visit, but Nadal is less a tourist than a global brand. Country-by-country reporting should be the norm for corporations.

    4. The rest of us don't have 'a right to protect our income' - most of us get it deducted from our monthly paycheck with no choice in the matter. We all have a duty to pay tax. It's important.

    5. Yes, corporations should not dodge taxes either (check the archive of this blog, you'll see we mention that a lot)

  7. Andrew, I'm a socialist myself and a big tennis fan. Secondly, not all those above posts are mine.

    A few points:

    1. Nadal does play in the UK and will continue to do so, including all taxes owed. This recent tax situation came to light because Nadal, and other tennis players, have the right to play at either Queen's Club or Halle each year as a warm up grass-court event for Wimbledon, i.e. they are non-mandatory tournaments, and Nadal has chosen Halle for 2012, citing the UK tax situation as one of his reasons for not choosing Queen's Club next year as he has every previous year apart from 2005. I'm not sure if this next bit is correct, but I believe this particular tax law on sponsorship money was introduced by the Thatcher government in 1988, and was tightened further in 2006 following a successful court case the Inland Revenue brought against Andre Agassi regarding his worldwide sponsorship endorsements. I also believe that the USA has a very similar tax law on sponsorship endorsements, but the difference there is that Nadal doesn't play any non-mandatory tournaments in the USA like he has in the UK with Queen's Club over the years.

    Apart from 2009 when he was injured, Nadal has played Queen's Club every year since 2006, as well as Wimbledon. Barring injury, fatigue or retirement, he will continue to play Wimbledon and the World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in the future. Therefore, the title of the piece "Rafael Nadal - shut up and pay your tax" and suggesting that UK Uncut "send him a message", makes no sense, because Nadal doesn't owe the UK government any tax for the 2012 Queen's Club tournament because he's decided to play Halle instead. It is not like, say, Vodafone being let off a £6,000,000,000 tax bill after a meeting with George Osborne.

    2. Agreed, but we know who the real culprits are, the big business multinational corporations, who continue to dodge untold billions in tax by having their big businesses listed in tax havens around the world.

    Points 3 and 4 covers things that were not written by me.

    5. As I said before, this is another divide and conquer tactic used by the capitalist authorities. Successful professional sportspeople with millions in the bank get little sympathy from the public while the public are struggling to make ends meet and are seeing their working and living standards cut in order to keep the bourgeoisie in profit. The mass media encourages people to hate famous footballers, for example, when they are caught doing something they shouldn't either on the pitch, in contract negotiations or in their personal lives, but this is the same mass media that is owned by big business and pushes forward the bourgeois party line.

    Thanks for reading :)