President of the Professional Football League in France (LFP) Frederic Thiriez has hailed Paris Saint-Germain's capture of Zlatan Ibrahimovic from AC Milan, believing that the striker will herald a new era in French football.
The 30-year-old completed a €23 million transfer to the Parc des Princes on Wednesday, but while his move has caught the imagination of many within the game, it has also been met with negative responses, including politician Valerie Fourneyron, who is demanding a salary cap on professional athletes.
However, the LFP supremo preferred to focus on the sporting benefits that Ibrahimovic's arrival would signal, claiming his presence will offer an incentive for other Ligue 1 clubs to strengthen and make the division more competitive, while also providing a cash boost for the country's finances.
"This is super news for everyone," Thiriez told Le Parisien. "Of course for PSG but also for football in general and Ligue 1 in particular, will be boosted in terms of audience and crowds.
"It's also good news for the influence of French football abroad and for the public finances. We must not forget that if Ibrahimovic is paid €12m net per year, that means the state will also receive €12m in taxes.
"Imagine that Ligue 1 is a high-speed train with a locomotive and 19 carriages. When the TGV is running at full speed, the 19th car goes as fast as the locomotive. A league needs a locomotive to pull everyone up. This is great news."
Thiriez then had a dig at Fourneyron, as he slammed the stigma attached to footballers on lucrative salaries and urged people to acknowledge their duties in paying out high taxes and attending to their social responsibilities.
"I've had enough of people always speaking of indecent or offensive payouts in football without looking at what happens elsewhere," he continued.
"Why always target football when it does not have the highest-paid athletes in the world? Of the five highest-paid athletes in the world, there is not one footballer.
"In golf, Tiger Woods earns €53m per year. Behind him, there are NBA basketball players and Roger Federer, a tennis player. In France there are also actors, stage directors and singers who earn much more than that.
"Will the Minister of Culture protest when Dany Boon earns €26m on a movie? No, because it is money that is honestly earned and he pays his dues to France. In football it's the exact same thing.
"Rejecting the notion of money in professional sports is proof of immaturity in our country. Last year, French clubs and players who play in France gave €622m in taxes and social charges.
"They pay their taxes in full, so I'm sick of footballers being stigmatised, particularly those based in France.
On the subject of money in football, Thiriez went on to insist that the country's teams lead the way in regards to setting the standard for running a club as sustainable businesses, and was delighted to see the Financial Fair Play (FFP) initiative applied to European competition.
"All our clubs are financially sound, unlike in Spain or Italy. French football is at the origins of Financial Fair Play in Uefa," he noted.
"I proposed it in 2005. I fear that Ms. Fourneyron is mistaken about the meaning of FFP. Its purpose is not to impoverish European football.
"This is simply to ensure that clubs do not spend more than they earn, to ensure a level playing field and fair competition.
"It has existed in France for 20 years. Some countries are based on our model and it will now be extended to European competition."
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