Investigation into 18 clubs for tax fraud sweeps through Belgian football

Investigation in Belgian football targets 18 professional clubs for tax fraud

Van Peteghem goes on the offensive

Belgian Minister of Finance Vincent van Peteghem has set his sights on cleansing the corruption that continues to plague professional football after it was revealed that at least 18 professional clubs across the domestic landscape have been linked with tax fraud.

Van Petegham – who has already gone on record with his intention to improve tax auditing services in the country – will now turn his attention to financial corruption inside Belgian football in the wake of the “Pano” report that included testimony from former football agent Dejan Veljkovic that implicates clubs, directors, trainers, and match officials.

According to Belgian outlet VRT, a tax investigation is now underway into 18 clubs with Van Petegham leading the charge in the wake of “Operation Zero”; the major investigation by the federal prosecutor into malpractice in Belgian football which started in 2018.

“It is of course mainly a blow to football fans, but also to everyone who pays a fair contribution. The special tax inspectorate is an important partner in the investigation into ‘Operation Zero.’ For example, a tax investigation is currently underway against 18 professional clubs. But I can’t say more about that.”

Youth and infrastructure targeted

Much of the issue gripping the internal dynamics of Belgian football comes by way of how tax benefits are being utilized by clubs.

Investigation in Belgian football targets 18 professional clubs for tax fraudInvestigation in Belgian football targets 18 professional clubs for tax fraud

Vice-prime minister and Finance Minister Vincent Van Peteghem pictured during a plenary session of the Chamber at the Federal Parliament in Brussels, Thursday 28 October 2021. BELGA PHOTO JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE (Photo by JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

Currently, the benefits received are deployed in a manner to afford high wages for players. But Van Petegham has other ideas;

“We have now taken a first step towards January, but there is still a reform on the table to spend the money they receive from the government on goals that we set.

Of the tax benefits that clubs receive, a large part now goes to high wages of top players. The intention is that this tax advantage is mainly used for youth and infrastructure. That seems to me a fair and logical starting point.”

For a nation that prides itself on the amount of young players that have risen through the professional ranks in recent years, focusing on increasing the development of youth assets at both club level and for the national team set up seems an appropriate use of financial resources.

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