Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Spain W/Cup bonus sparks outrage

Manchester United and Spain's Juan Mata says the issue of World Cup bonus payments 'are sometimes used against us' in his home country

Politicians have reacted with anger over a 720,000-euro (£585,365) bonus for each Spanish player if the national team win the World Cup in Brazil.

Captain Iker Casillas and vice-captain Xavi Hernandez signed the deal with Spain's football federation on June 3 on behalf of the 23 players - a £97,561 increase from the 600,000 euros (£487,804) each player received when their country won the 2010 tournament.

MPs Pablo Martin Pere and Susana Ros of the opposition Socialist party criticised the premium as "disproportionate" and "an insult to citizens" given the recent economic crisis.

And Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida tweeted that Spain would pay "more than twice" the bonus Germany would if they won the tournament. "Are we twice as rich as Germany?" his tweet said.

Germany's team will receive 300,000 euros (£243,900) if they win, having kept the same agreement they struck when they participated in Euro 2012.

Spain's economy began to crumble in 2008 with the collapse of its bloated property sector and unemployment soared to 26.1% at the close of 2013.

"It's brutal," said food wholesaler Juan Burgos, 44, who had travelled from northern Navarra to sell produce in Madrid. "With so many people in Spain hurting so badly, those kind of payments don't fit with our everyday reality."

Like other countries that have the euro as their currency - such as Ireland, Portugal or Greece - Spain suffered as the government imposed harsh austerity measures in order to get its public finances into shape.

Despite stinging cutbacks, unemployment will remain above 20% until 2017.

MP Laia Ortiz said she would raise the matter of the squad's premium in parliament and lambasted football for being "another world" where "there is no crisis".

Each member will receive a payment of 360,000 euros (£292,682) if the team reach the final, and 180,000 euros (£146,341) if they make the semi-finals.

Manchester United and Spain midfielderJuan Mata said such payments were "sometimes used against us", but that he would be playing "with the same enthusiasm I had as a child, in a bid to try and win another World Cup, without thinking about all the rest".

The 2014 World Cup winner will be awarded £20.8 million by Fifa, football's governing body, but many say the money should go towards programmes that promote the game at all levels.

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