VAT Wants a Piece of the Action

The customs agency is seeking to levy a new tax worth tens of millions of shekels on soccer clubs that import foreign players, the Israel Football Association claimed yesterday. The IFA has already helped clubs petition the courts against this demand.

Since Arcadi Gaydamak took over Beitar Jerusalem, competitiveness - and thus salaries - has jumped significantly, and the tax authorities apparently want in.

The controversial levy involves the "player card" a club pays to other teams to acquire their players. The tax authorities consider this the purchase of an asset, which by law requires paying value-added tax. They are demanding payments dating back to 2002.

Each team can have up to five foreign players. Teams pay a one-time fee of up to $500,000 for the card.

The clubs' petition argues "a player is not an asset, a person is not goods, and human trafficking is forbidden by Israeli law." The clubs claim the payment is compensation to the club that invested in training the player. Trading a player involves breaking a contract, and that means paying a fine.