Zlatan Ibrahimovic has an interesting take on the ethics of high wages paid to professional athletes.  After his new teammate, David Beckham, was accused of donating his entire salary to a children’s charity for tax purposes, Ibrahimovic told reporters:

I heard Beckham’s decision and it made me think, who is most deserving of all of the money that I, Zlatan, am paid? The answer is Zlatan. The children of Paris are not leading Ligue 1 in goals this season. I am. I have 20 goals. The next best players have 12. Twelve! If anything, the children of Paris should be giving me even more money for having the privilege of being in the same city as my incredible quality. And so should David Beckham. Call it a Zlaritable donation.

It’s tough to imagine a US athlete getting away with saying something like that, but the comments should come as no surprise to Beckham (a former US athlete with the LA Galaxy), who recently described Ibrahimovic’s ego as a “super type.”  Beckham may be more humble than Ibramhovic, but there’s little doubt his signing was as much of a PR stunt as anything else. Check out this picture from the team’s splash page, which renders Beckham’s face bigger than the Eiffel Tower:

beckhampsg

The two play on Paris Saint Germain (PSG), the soccer team currently leading France’s Ligue 1.  Beckham joined the club on a 5-month contract and made his debut last week in PSG’s 2-0 win over Marseille.  100% of his £170,000 ($255,289) per week salary will be donated to an unnamed children’s charity in Paris.  Beckham says he is excited about the move and sees it as a unique and unprecedented gesture.  Some though are accusing him of merely trying to avoid France’s proposed 75% “super-tax” tax for high earners, pointing out that he will still receive a 20% cut of t-shirt sales, earn the French minimum wage and have his hotel bill forked by the club.  He will also still make over $37 million from endorsement deals.  Proponents of Beckham’s move note that his decision is in line with the star’s previous philanthropic efforts.  In addition to being a UNICEF ambassador since 1999, he has championed causes such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and relief for returned service members.

No one except Beckham really knows if the move was a tax dodge effort, PR stunt, or genuine act of charity, but Ibrahomovic certainly isn’t shy of expressing his opinions on the matter:

When I signed with PSG the politicians called my wages ‘indecent’ in a time when so many people are struggling, even though it is a lot of money that can be taxed and help the country.  Now Beckham gives all of his wages to a local charity and people call him a tax dodger. Both are examples of stupid people complaining about good things. It is a waste of breath. Like Pep Guardiola blowing up his own birthday balloons, which I then pop with an overhead kick the second he is finished. These people should be subject to a 75 percent stupidity tax payable to the Bank of Zlatan. Then they will have something to really complain about.

One thing is certain – it’ a good thing Ibrahomovic doesn’t dictate tax policy. Otherwise, we’d be subject to a “stupidity tax” made payable to the “Bank of Zlatan,” all of which could be offset by any “Zlaritable donations” to ourselves.

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