MUCH ADO ABOUT MARQUEZ...
HE'S MOVING TO ANDORRA
Tax evasion. Arguably one of the most discussed topics in 2014, and mainly involving the tax arrangements of giant corporations such as Amazon, Google, Starbucks etc; and linked to the connivance of equally large accountancy companies.
But in the past week or so the topic has received a high profile within the world of motorcycling; Moto GP to be precise, with the announcement by Marc Marquez that he will be changing his residence to Andorra, the mini state and tax haven nestled in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain.
It's not unusual for financially successful sports people to locate to these places. There are clutches of them in Monaco, Switzerland, and in the Isle of Man; the favoured residence of UK riders whose earnings take them into the bracket where they want to avoid the higher tax rates of those earning hundreds of thousands and more.
In Spain Marquez decision has touched a raw nerve. Mainly because the country is still struggling with the financial problems caused by the banking crisis, and the uncovering of corrupt and incompetent practices within government and the EU. With the consequences being borne mainly by young people, who experience an unemployment rate of fifty per cent, and who see little prospect of any improvement in their situation.
Such has been the negative response that Marquez felt he had to respond at a press conference prior to a dirt track race in Barcelona, the Super Prestigio, where a raft of road racing names including Bradley Smith from the UK, take on some of the US Flat Track stars and others (Marquez won).
In what was reported to be an emotional reply to some harsh criticism, Marquez pledged that he would still be paying tax in Spain. And went on to say that while he had very close relationship with his family he wanted his own living space now, and chose Andorra because it's a place he is familiar with and enjoys being while he prepares for the physical and mental exertions that accompany pre season testing and the Moto GP programme – his current home is just 120 kilometres from Andorra.
Like other sporting celebrities he makes a case for privacy. But such is the purchasing power of this group that they can, and do, easily move places and residences that keep the fans at arms length behind long secure driveways, and afford themselves additional 'protection' with a host of security electronica.
This is a topic that will no doubt divide opinion. But all of sports top earners and multi-millionaires should keep firmly in mind that it's the spectators and fans who contribute to their favoured status through ticket prices, merchandise, and the purchasing of products they endorse, whether a can of Red Bull, clothing or myriad other products.
It's not difficult to find out how much the top Moto GP riders earn. Annual salaries and endorsements are counted in the high hundreds of thousands and millions. Rossi is said to scrape by on $12 million with and additional $10 million from endorsements. Yamaha must calculate that they can shift a lot of R1's across the globe as they also dole out over $9 million to Jorge Lorenzo.
Marquez racing fee (at the moment) is said to be $4 million, the same believe it or not as Nicki Hayden and his team mate Pedrosa. While Cal Crutchlow tucks $1.4 million into his pocket.
Aside from the Yamaha 'boys' the salaries paid to most Moto GP riders may not be considered large in an era where sporting and celebrity 'worship' reaches religious fervour, and their wealth in relation to their use in society is largely unquestioned. But motorcycle racers at the top of their game are still seen and treated as 'one of us' and are generally more humble, approachable and accessible.
Such a high profile and rightly revered rider as Marquez is bound to draw the ire of some if he's considered to become distanced from those who relate to him as a talented young rider because of privileges only available to him (Rossi is still domiciled in his home country and during the past few years has been involved in having to pay massive tax bills to the government and to his accountants who claimed to have saved him a bundle).
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