Archive for the ‘Sports’ category

Stephon Marbury: Beijing’s Model Migrant

September 1, 2014

Stephon Marbury is one of the three most significant basketball players in the world. As a star of the two-time-champion Beijing Ducks and active cultural ambassador, he’s arguably doing more for America’s image in China than any other individual[1], and the acceptance he’s received there is especially heartwarming considering the reception other people of African descent have received in the country[2].

The stone the builders rejected became a cornerstone. So it makes sense that he’ll be the protagonist of a new musical in Beijing[3], surreal as it may be for NBA fans who remember his feuds and losing seasons at home. Hopefully ESPN or NBA TV blows up Twitter by playing a subtitled recording of the show in the States. Here[4] is the playbill, including photos of Marbury, who will appear on stage, and Mike Sui[5], who will play him for the speaking roles.

Nothing in the public sphere is truly apolitical in China, though, and that’s also sadly the case here. The musical presents Marbury as a model migrant worker and implies that if only the others worked as hard as him, they’d be that successful too (the paucity of their legal rights go unmentioned).

“The play, which will run for 11 consecutive nights [during the National Day vacation], centers on the idea that Marbury is a successful Beijing vagabond, or beipiao — a Chinese term typically used to refer to the millions of migrant workers who flock to the capital in search of employment without official Beijing residence permits,” says the New York Times. “The plot follows the story of a musician, a beipiao himself, who arrives in Beijing in search of fame and is inspired to beat the odds by watching Marbury lead the Ducks to their first-ever championship during the 2011-12 season.”

In the playbill, Director Zhou Wen-hong says: “Regarding Marbury’s success, his spirit has even greater social significance. Overcoming difficulties, never giving up, never compromising: everyone says these inspiring phrases, but how many people really accomplish them like Marbury has?”

Starbury is hardworking and he does come from afar, but presenting him as a model for China’s migrant workers is like lauding Mario and Luigi and questioning why the rest of the world’s plumbers aren’t that rich and famous. Even Horatio Alger would furrow his brow at the comparison.

It’s not just that Marbury was already a rich and famous basketball star when he came to China, meaning he had orders of magnitude more capital, leverage, and connections than any average person, and he joined an inferior league. It’s also that under China’s household registration system, migrant laborers are quasi-illegal immigrants within their own country and are mostly shut out of receiving any social services.

Basically, in China wherever your family was based in the 1950s determines where you and your children “belong” now. It’s like if you moved to Boston from Iowa but couldn’t put your kids in Boston schools or participate in the state pension or medical insurance system. “Only 1 in 7 of [China’s 262 million migrant workers] is participating in any form of pension and only 1 in 6 has medical insurance. In combination with this lack of access to most forms of social security, migrant workers are disproportionately employed in dangerous jobs, and as a result migrant workers accounted for 70% of all work related deaths in China in 2012 (according to the China Labour Bulletin).”[6]

Children normally inherit their parents’ hukou, regardless of where they are born, and are often barred from the public schools in the places they grow up[7], even in Beijing[8]. Changing your registration is possible but very difficult; you typically have to strike it rich first. Scrapping the system is out of the question; cities oppose changes proposed by the center; reform is slow; and even this year’s proposed changes are incremental[9]: i.e. “the very largest cities – defined as those above 5 million in population, which covers a dozen or more Chinese conurbations [including Beijing] – are still advised to ‘strictly control the scale of the population,’ using a points-based system to give priority to those with college degrees or who have studied abroad.” In the meantime, social activists and parents across the country will keep pushing for systemic reform.

By and large, Chinese migrants are improving their lives and giving themselves better futures despite all this, but they’re doing so in spite of the system, and they’ve never received the protection or opportunities they deserve. So, while it’s nice that Marbury and the city want to inspire them—Marbury has also been chosen as an “official role model in a citywide campaign encouraging people to ‘work hard and live morally'”—migrants are already doing everything he is and just don’t get the same opportunities. Paradoxically the message “work hard and live morally” seems crafted to give a mistaken impression people aren’t doing that now.

There’s a lesson here for Americans as well. Just as Marbury is presented as a model migrant worker despite having privileges no Chinese migrant would dare dream of, commentators like Bill O’Reilly compare Asian-Americans to African-Americans despite the chasmic differences between these two groups and then argue the wealth disparity between them proves African-Americans just aren’t working hard enough. Eddie Huang has already sautéed O’Reilly[10] about the speciousness of the comparison; in short: US immigration policy ensured Asian immigrants to the U.S. typically had particularly high levels of wealth and education; they had large family and social networks as they had generally suffered less state violence; and they and their descendants have received better treatment here from law enforcement and other institutions. Thus, while Asian-American success should be celebrated, using it against African-Americans is a divide-and-conquer strategy fit for colonialists.

It’s great to see people beat the odds, but their stories are remarkable for a reason: environment and history still determine what your odds are. Stephon Marbury deserves the accolades he’s received, but his Beijing career shouldn’t be likened to the struggles of the disenfranchised. Revel in Starbury’s fame, but dunk on politically motivated mythmaking whenever you see it.

James Smyth is a translator in Taiwan.

[1] http://grantland.com/the-triangle/the-humbling-of-stephon-marbury-and-the-limits-of-the-chinese-basketball-association/

[2] http://www.theatlantic.com/china/archive/2013/08/on-being-african-in-china/279136/

[3] http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/28/stephon-marbury-the-musical-a-tale-of-making-it-in-beijing/

[4] http://t.damai.cn/fanclub/dealtail/138/

[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HENoGStC6As

[6] http://cambridgeglobalist.org/2014/07/29/dangerous-dirty-demanding-chinas-migrant-workers-hukou-system/

[7] https://digital.law.washington.edu/dspace-law/bitstream/handle/1773.1/1165/21PRPLJ591.pdf?sequence=1

[8] http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1518536/parents-protest-against-new-rules-barring-non-beijing-children-primary

[9] http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2014/08/04/chinas-hukou-reform-plan-starts-to-take-shape/

[10] http://thepopchef.blogspot.tw/2014/08/i-hate-you-bill-oreilly.html?m=1

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How the Pacers Should Spend Summer Vacation

June 1, 2014

OK Pacers. Spiritual failures require spiritual solutions. Here are my summer job prescriptions to help you recover from the trauma of this wack season.

PAUL GEORGE: First meet your daughter, then get away from everything for a while. I know you loved Palmdale’s sandiness so to get that along with your emotional reset and guidance from above, I recommend the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, “surrounded by miles of undisturbed wilderness amidst the Chama Canyon wilderness area 75 miles north of Santa Fe.”

LANCE STEPHENSON: Train with Pai Mei. The most famous Shaolin Temple is too commercialized to help you now, but I’m sure we can find the right dojo to change your life. You’re the real-life talented but uncontrolled and violent hero from kung fu movies and you need to channel your strength before wasting your skills and hurting more people (I remember the domestic violence incident).

GEORGE HILL: Being quiet and kind is great, but your decisiveness, confidence, and assertiveness were sorely lacking this year. Also you seem a bit too comfortable in Indy. So try India. Travel through it for a month by yourself, and by the time you’re done NBA basketball will seem easy. Bring a DS for train rides so you can play tons of fast-twitch video games where you need to make choices quickly and confidently. But be really careful about where you eat.

DAVID WEST: You showed signs of leadership this year and we urgently need to cultivate that. I know you’re socially conscious, so when you’re not practicing corner 3’s, spearhead a criminal justice reform campaign and do community outreach for the Indy NAACP. Meanwhile you will be the 24-hour emergency liaison for everyone who’s abroad.

ROY HIBBERT: Roy. We still love you. Don’t get too down on yourself. But you need fresh air as well as improved discipline, body language, physical fitness, quickness, and social skills. Since you’re also an otaku, I know just the place for you! Go to Japan, teach English at a rural school, and do the endless motion drills of their basketball clubs. You’ll grow and you’ll also receive unconditional affirmation. Plus you can Tweet with your new student friends, but be warned most of them will come off as pervs because of what they RT.

IAN MAHINMI: You will be joining Roy in Japan but doing something even more special. You need to work a lot on your physical coordination under pressure and recharge emotionally around some really positive and excitable people, so you should follow in Bob Sapp’s footsteps and become a reoccurring contestant in Japanese came shows. The games are awesome and challenging, and you will have a blast and become a YouTube hero.

LUIS SCOLA: Phys ed and substitute Spanish teacher on the East Side by day and Broad Ripple barfly by night. You would be awesome at this. In fact, you should just retire and do it full-time if you can’t become a reliable 3-point shooter this summer.

CHRIS COPELAND: While Roy’s in Japan we need someone to take the fans out for parties and you are the perfect candidate. You are the most popular player on the team right now–though Vogel hasn’t made you feel like it–so come out and enjoy it. You DO need to work on your defensive fundamentals so spend the rest of your time at basketball camps.

WATSON, SLOAN: We need more point guard skills. Stand outside John Stockton’s front door every single day until he agrees to take you on as students.

DANNY GRANGER: Come home! Be our 12th man and Paul’s Barnabas. Get a hyperbaric chamber.

BUTLER, ALLEN, S.HILL: You guys seem cool and normal; I wonder if that is why you saw the court so rarely this season. You may focus on basketball.

TURNER, BYNUM: At a loss for words with you two. Both the attitude and the ability to stay in the league are lacking. The best way to redeem yourselves is to donate a lot of money to Riley Children’s Hospital on your way out.

FRANK VOGEL: You are unfailingly positive and need to go somewhere where young people will treat you well for once. Become a youth minister at a church. You also need some new ideas, so make friends with Hubie Brown.

 

Front office, you need to keep clocking in all summer so what I have to say to you is more direct.

Taking responsibility for your failures and repenting is healthy. Ultimately what happened is on you, and if you confess your basketball sins you will attain the lightness of being to make clear-headed decisions about the future.

Maybe Hinkle Fieldhouse is the St. Peter’s of basketball (I am skeptical about Indiana’s basketball faith at present for numerous reasons) but the man you need an audience with to obtain absolution is Bill Russell. Talk the season over with him and some of the other sages and then come back to work.

Here is your examination of conscience:

1. Larry falls too much in love with particular players and then gets fleeced in trades for them when the GM on the other line realizes that. There must be more than 14 players in the league that you like, so when you want to make deals, call EVERYONE instead of letting a single bidder keep raising your offer like the Spurs did for George Hill and the Suns did for Luis Scola.

2. You don’t have an analytics game. Get on that! I am afraid the thought processes of the 3 of you are all too similar to teach other. Bring in someone different, like Zach Lowe, but preferably someone who isn’t busy writing the NBA’s best columns.

3. Like 10 years ago, you tempted fate by letting too many punks on the team; namely, the midseason deals for the notorious malefactors Turner and Bynum pushed us over the edge. Whether it’s in the locker room or on the bench, more people with clear moral authority and the ability to keep the youth on the straight and narrow are needed.

4. A different bench philosophy is needed. Instead of bringing in guys who are simply lesser versions of the starters, find players with different and complementary skill sets that we can use when we’re stuck with mismatches. When there have been unique pieces like Copeland or Gerald Green, Frank has disdained them if their D isn’t good enough and kept them on the bench so he can keep running the same style as always. The Heat and Spurs are beyond us because every guy they bring in can do something different, which makes them way more flexible and harder to checkmate.

Finally, HERB: Improve our karma; take advantage of your higher revenues to stop stealing money from the public treasury. Let the annual $10 million from Indy go to schools and hospitals instead. Also, don’t fear the luxury tax; life is short and the cap is going to soar the next few years anyway.

Those are my ideas. Looking forward to reading your own in-kind suggestions in the comments.

Urdangarin’s Ex-Business Partner Implicates the King of Negotiating in Favor of his Son-in-Law

April 22, 2012

Jorge Forteza and Pedro Perelló
Jorge Forteza and Pedro Perelló in 2007. Photo by Tōru Shimada.

Urdangarin’s Ex-Business Partner Implicates the King of Negotiating in Favor of his Son-in-Law
Diego Torres remitted three emails with documents to the court
The Duke says, “He has told Cristina that in principle, there won’t be any problems.”

Duke Iñaki Urdangarin affirmed in three 2007 emails that the king acted as a mediator so his son-in-law could participate in a new yachting team for the 33rd America’s Cup. The documents were remitted by Urdangarin’s ex-business partner, Diego Torres, to the Palma court which is investigating the activities of Instituto Nóos. The Ayre Project, which still has not found prosperity after that fiasco of a sporting event, was managed by Pedro Perelló and Jorge Forteza – regattists, businessmen, and friends of the princes and princesses – with the support of the Duke of Palma.

In one of these communications, dated September 30, 2007, Torres asks the duke about his “experience” in seminars about urban planning in Philadelphia and informs him that Perelló has spent “a good while on the telephone every day” to intensify his contacts with the public administrations of the Valencian Community. The following day, Urdangarin answered him form Washington, “I bring a message on behalf of the king, and it is that he has commented to Cristina, so that she could pass the message on to me, that he will get [Francisco] Camps in touch with Pedro in order to tell him about the theme of the base of the Prada. And that in principle, there will not be any problems, and they will help us get it,” said Urdangarin in allusion to the necessary installations in the port of Valencia to hold Project Ayre’s future boat.

In this same email, Urdangarin informed Torres that “there could be a little something for the foundation” and lamented that the entity’s website was not in English. “It would give a more international touch,” the Duke said, and he added that Agustín Zulueta, leader of the Desafío Español (Spanish Challenge) crew – the team that participated in the 2007 America’s Cup – “had asked Cristina to coffee to talk about something that couldn’t be discussed over the phone.” “It was mysterious, but it seemed serious and important,” he averred.

The messages about the ambitious sailing project which Torres’s lawyer, Manuel González Peeters, handed to the judge, piled up on August 9, 2007. Urdangarin then revealed a supposed encounter between King Juan Carlos and Perelló. “We arranged a meeting between the king and Pedro in order to present the project. It went very well, and apart from seeming very well put together, the king has offered all his help in finding financial assistance,” he said to Torres, to whom he added, “Enjoy the cruise.”

Later, on September 10, the husband of Princess Cristina wrote a message to Perelló which again lead with the supposed actions the king had taken to make sure the project arrived safely in harbor. “The king commented to me that one of his friends had done the negotiating we requested with Miguel Fluxa,” in allusion to the owner and president of the Iberostar group, Miguel Fluxá. “From my end, I’ve given [Fluxá] the ear of BBVA so he can give a push to Paco González,” Urdangarin explained to Perelló.

The messages also reveal certain differences over the (failed) presence of a second Spanish team at the America’s Cup. Zulueta affirmed in an October 2007 conversation that he felt “more peaceful” after speaking with “Cristina” and that he believed Perelló “will not continue sending surprising documents to our sponsors.” The tone, despite it all, is conciliatory, and he informed Urdangarin that “the Desafío Español has nothing against another Spanish team taking part, and if course, it has not acquired any right to be the only team.” This relieved “a worry on our end.”

The message sent by another of those implicated in the Nóos case, Antonio Ballabriga, chief of the corporate affairs of BBVA and friend of the Duke, confirms that Urdangarin went forward with his activity in Nóos and his business with public entities. This, despite his formal renunciation in March 2006 and after the king’s emissary, José Manuel Romero Moreno, advised him that spring to disassociate himself with the business. “As we’ve established, we’ll meet at 10 in Nóos to talk about meetings for the European Games project.”

After the 2009 America’s Cup
J.G. reporting from Barcelona and A.M. reporting from Palma

The Mallorcan regattists Pedro Perelló and Jorge Forteza conceived of a project to give Spain a second representative in the 2009 America’s Cup in Valencia. They wanted a team capable of competing to win, and for that they needed to raise at least 100 million euros. Despite their efforts, and despite the Ayre project being enrolled as a challenger by America’s Cup Management (ACM), the project did not prosper.

In 2007, Perelló won the King’s Cup for sailing with a boat named Siemens in which Prince Elena was a navegator. It was then that the regattist and shipowner tried to put together a great team in order to participate in the America’s Cup. Perelló never hid who the project’s godparents were, and he affirmed that the project counted on the active participation of Urdangarin (who was to take charge of the “social and cultural” area of the project) and the blessing of the king, as well. Duke Urdangarin retired after the project. Three years later, one of his businesses dedicated to “sports patronage” (Promorace, FL) was condemned to pay 34,000 euros for abandoning a sailing ship in the installations of the Royal Nautical Club of Palma. The judge obligated the business to “vacate the installations.”

Perelló paired up with a person who could provide more economic muscle for the project, businessman Jorge Forteza, duke of the real estate company Nova. Forteza was tthe “fourth player” that participated in the table tennis game in the palace of Marivent Urdangarin, along with regattist and ex-Director General of Sports Pepote Ballester and ex-President of the Balearic Islands Jaume Matas, who were also imputed in the Nóos case. There, Urdangarin confirmed his patronage of the Illes Balears cycling team. Nóos bought to apartments in Novaen Palma. In addition, Forteza was an intermediary for buying and selling terrain for Mallorca’s territorial program, which was investigated by the attorney general. The BMW Oracle team took the plan for the 33rd America’s Cup to court, where the project was paralyzed more than a year and a half before it was finally cleared.

Bittersweet First Victory for Darvish: Bested By Ichiro

April 11, 2012

Darvish and IchiroDarvish (left) gave up four runs in his first inning; Ichiro (right) went 3-for-4 against him and is coming in to score. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Bittersweet First Victory for Darvish: Bested By Ichiro
Yomiuri Shimbun:
Kai Nishimura reporting April 10, 2012

Box Score

Did Yu Darvish “have it” during his first major league victory, like his former teammate Yuki Saito did for the Nippon Ham Fighters on his own opening day this season?

Frankly, it looked like the number one pitcher in Japanese baseball was overcome by nerves.

In the first inning, he walked the leadoff hitter, Figgins, on a fastball that was way outside. After getting an out, he faced Ichiro, the #3 hitter. On a two-and-two count, Ichiro hit a ball safely past the third baseman, getting Darvish deeper in trouble. But Darvish’s control didn’t return to him then, either; instead, he threw more bad pitches that got crushed. He even walked Kawasaki with the bases loaded to allow a fourth run in his very first inning.

Ichiro hit a double to right his next time up in the second inning, [grounded out in the fourth, and] singled in the sixth, which forced Darvish out of the game. All the hits the Mariners got on Darvish were off his two-seam fastball, the pitch that had been his lifeline in America so far. After his third exhibition game on March 19, he had said the pitch was really responding well – “it really moves, and I feel like even my teammates hate it” – and he used it most of the times he needed an out pitch. He couldn’t get a handle on it this time, though. In fact, all his pitches were a little wild.

His other great pitches, like his curve, weren’t going where he wanted them to, either, so it’s safe to say he hasn’t completely adjusted to major league ball yet. Darvish came here after relentlessly polishing his stuff in Japan. Given today’s painful experience, one is left wondering how close he is to attaining his goal of becoming the Greatest Pitcher in the World.

Mixed Reactions to Japanese Comedian Running for Cambodia in London Marathon: “He’s Disrespecting Other Athletes” vs. “He’s a Bridge Between Nations”

March 31, 2012

Hiroshi Neko Cambodian Marathoner
Mr. Hiroshi Neko poses happily after accepting a place in the Olympic marathon as a representative of Cambodia. His ribbon wishes him “congratulations.” March 26, Sumida-ku, Tokyo.

Mixed Reactions to Japanese Comedian Running for Cambodia in London Marathon: “He’s Disrespecting Other Athletes” vs. “He’s a Bridge Between Nations”
Yomiuri Shimbun: 猫さん五輪に賛否…「選手に失礼」「懸け橋に」
March 31, 2012

Mr. Hiroshi Neko (the alias of Kuniaki Takizaki), a 34-year old comedian who took Cambodian citizenship to complete for a spot in the marathon at the London Olympics, has been chosen as a member of the Cambodian team.

This has ignited controversy, with some saying he has shown great disrespect to Cambodian athletes in going as far as changing his citizenship to make the team and others saying he is a bridge between nations. Can he handle the burden of a nation’s hopes and dreams during the race itself?

“My goal is to break the world record in London.” Speaking at a press conference in Sumida-ku, Tokyo on March 26 in which he accepted a place on the Cambodian national team, Mr. Neko was so nervous that his hands shook. He usually dons a red T-shirt reading “Cat Demon” (Neko Oni) , but that day he wore a suit and tie.

He acknowledged criticism of his change of nationality, saying “I know some people have strict views about this. I’ve decided to go through with it, though, and I’m going to pursue victory all the way to the end.”

Eye-catching online criticism of Mr. Neko includes “for a comedian to play a joke on everyone by running in the Olympics is a dishonor to all the athletes who are honestly competing in the event” and “Isn’t he just trying to get attention?”

Former Olympic silver medalist Yūko Arimori (45), who plans charity marathons in Cambodia to deepen exchange with the country, tearfully said to the Yomiuri Shimbun that “it pains me to think of the young man whose spot on the team was taken by a Japanese person.” Indeed, it was Ms. Arimori who invited Neko’s primary competitor for that spot, Hem Bunting (26), to Japanese invitationals. “Cambodian runners have to build their strength inside a poor training environment. I’d prefer that someone who’s actually from there run for them.”

Japan Track and Field Association Director (and former marathoner) Toshihiko Seko (55), however, is looking forward to Mr. Neko’s performance: “My compliments go to him for winning his spot on the basis of his abilities. I would like to see him become a bridge between these two nations.”

Original: (more…)

Housing Investigates Rafael Nadal and Obliges Him to Change His Fiscal Residence

February 19, 2012

Rafael Nadal at Reception for Davis Cup WinnersRafael Nadal at a reception for the Davis Cup winners in Moncloa last Tuesday. Photo by Luis Sevillano.

Housing Investigates Rafael Nadal and Obliges Him to Change His Fiscal Residence
His companies paid taxes in the Basque Country though they weren’t active there
El País: Hacienda investiga a Rafael Nadal y le obliga a cambiar de domicilio fiscal
José María Irujo reporting from Madrid February 19, 2012

The match has been very long, more than two years long, and has been played inside offices and without spectators, but in the end the victory quietly went to the Tax Agency. Tennis player Rafael Nadal’s companies, which moved €56 million between 2005 and 2011, solicited a change of fiscal residence from the Basque Country to Manacor, Baleares last December 23.

Rafael Nadal’s business framework had taken advantage of fiscal residence in San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa the last six years to benefit from the region’s special tax regime though neither the companies’ activities nor their management were based in the city, according to a Tax Agency source. Last December, tax inspectors and the sportsman’s fiscal assessor came to an agreement that Nadal would request a change of residence and refill Form 036, which is obligatory to complete the transfer.

The agreement also requires the sportsman to regularize his tax situation by paying the millions of euros in taxes that he had avoided, according to agency sources. The sportsman’s spokesman declined to give an exact figure and admitted that the companies have moved their residence to the Balearic Islands and “as a result of this move would not receiving the benefits foreseen under the previous tax regime.” Nadal has always maintained his personal fiscal residence in the Balearic Islands, his birthplace.

The investigation into Nadal’s companies’ fiscal residence is part of a Tax Agency program that for five years has sniffed around the hundreds of companies legally based in the Basque Country and Navarre that feign the development of management and activities there to benefit from their tax systems and which on occasion are practically nonexistent. Nadal’s companies had this profile, assure sources close to the investigation.

“The law is very clear: a company’s residence should be where its activity and management are developed. Rafael Nadal is a great sportsman and wins his money honestly, but he only went to San Sebastián to eat steaks. He was poorly advised. His companies never should have been based there,” asserted a Tax Agency source.

Nadal’s companies were established in Gipuzkoa in 2005 and 2006 and were listed as Entrepreneurial Promotion Companies (SPE). The SPE is a tax instrument created by the Basque Nationalist government for companies basd in Álava, Bizcaia, and Gipuzkoa, and it was revoked in the rest of Spain. Article 60 of the regional law establishes that SPEs are societies dedicated to entrepreneurial activities whose securities are not listed on the stock exchange. They demand a minimum business capital of three million euros and can last five years. The Gipuzkoa Housing Agency decides which companies correspond with this listing.

The taxes for these societies are minimal, on occasion less than 1%, and this has provoked an inflow of businesses which saw the Basque Country as a kind of off-shore territory or fiscal paradise. In 2010, an investigatory commission of General Assemblies recommended the SPE’s elimination, and now the Bildu government is questioning it. “It’s not an instrument that the current government likes, and we are studying what to do with it, but we will not give any more details,” responded the Gipuzkoa Housing Agency’s spokesman.

It’s estimated that some 100 companies have this fiscal privilege in Gipuzkoa. Nadal’s were in this group, various sources stated. The tennis player has not provided details about his companies, but three (Debamina, SL, Goramendi Siglo XXI, and Aspemir, SL) have business capital that is practically identical to what the Basque law requires for listing as an SPE. The businesses’ official objectives are the fomenting, promotion, and participation of companies, nearly the word-for-word legal definition of these privileged entrepreneurial promotion societies.

Debamina, SL, is the head of the group. Its primary fiscal residence was Avenida del Barcelona #4 in San Sebastián, and its only administrator was Sebastián Nadal, the player’s father. The sportsman owns 99.35% of the capital. Debamina, SL holds 100% of Aspemir, SL, which is a limited unipersonal company [it has only one stockholder] and which controls Goramendi Siglo XXI.

According to the latest calculations declared by the Commercial Registry, the total active value of Aspemir has risen to €56 million euros; this year, its total profits rose to €19,808,112, for which it has paid €10,319 in taxes. From the analysis of these figures, we can deduce that for years, and through compensation methods, the companies paid very low percentages of taxes, lower even than 1%. The Housing Department’s state corporate tax is 30%. “It’s a private subject. We’re not going to say how much we paid,” responded Nadal’s spokesman.

During their stay in the Basque Country, Nadal’s companies’ management councils included José Antonio Lopetegui Agote, a Gipuzkoan developer and the brother of Miriam Lopetegui and former Barcelona and Spain goalkeeper Julen Lopetegui. The Lopeteguis have had a long friendship with the Nadals.

Nadal’s case is similar to manufacturer José Luis Moreno’s. Tax Agency inspectors confirmed in 2008 that Miramón Mendi, SA, his principal company and the top television producer in Spain, didn’t develop any of its activities in the Basque Country. The investigation took two years and started with a visit to Paseo de Andoain #18 in San Sebastián, which figured as the company residence in which he stayed 13 years. Moreno attended to the agency’s request, regularized his payments, and moved the companies’ fiscal residence to Madrid. Now, the same agency has touched Nadal.

SPEs’ Opacity
Another Entrepreneurial Promotion Company (SPE) on the point of explosion is the fraudulent Catalonian firm Glass Costa Este Salou, whose shareholders include ex-Housing Director and ex-PNV Senator Víctor Bravo. Through this tax instrument, the company established its fiscal residence in San Sebastián though neither its activities nor its management were in the community. In 2010, an investigatory commission of General Assemblies unanimously called for the disappearance of SPEs and produced a report which concluded that this special regimen lacked transparency, facilitated debt, and opened the door to companies seeking fiscal paradises. Alava and Vizcaya, controlled by the PNV, blocked SPEs’ abolition.

Gorka Maneiro, age 36, UPyD parliamentarian and fiscal assessor, assured that the instrument has had a “long leash” that it’s “brought a lot of money to the state while deceiving the citizens. SPEs practically don’t pay taxes, and they don’t complete their objectives of stimulating business creation, either. We must abolish this special regime.”

The Lehendakari (First Minister of the Basque Government), Patxi López, stated he is in favor of revising the bonuses written into in the regional councils’ tax rules in order to bring about “just fiscal pressure”. In 2010, the incentives conceded to Guipúzcoa’s 115 SPEs cost the regional Housing Department €600 million.

Spain’s Most Successful Female Athlete: “My Parents Have Left Me With Nothing; I Don’t Speak With My Family”

February 7, 2012

Arantxa Sánchez Vicario with Parents in 1989Arantxa Sánchez Vicario with her parents in 1989

Spain’s Most Successful Female Athlete: “My Parents Have Left Me With Nothing; I Don’t Speak With My Family”
Arantxa Sánchez Vicario attacks her parents in her memoirs, accusing them of squandering her fortune and giving her equal treatment with her tennis-playing brothers Emilio and Javier
El País: “Mis padres me han dejado sin nada; no me hablo con mi familia”
J.J.M. reporting from Madrid February 5, 2012

“I was born into a family of tennis players, and I watched the sport ever since I was little. You may be born into something, but you have to work to keep polishing it and to become a champion. You sacrifice a lot in such a mental sport in which you have to know how to control your emotions,” says Arantxa Sánchez Vicario over the telephone from Moscow, where she has just finished her debut as coach of the Spanish women’s tennis team, which bowed to Russia 3-2 yesterday in the first round of the Federation Cup.

In 30 seconds, the ex-#1, winner of four major tournaments and four Olympic medals, has summarized the values of her whole life. In one breath, she has underlined the themes that marked a unique career: sacrifice, family, the mind, and emotions. These few phrases display the concepts at play in ¡Vamos! Memorias de una lucha, una vida y una mujer (Let’s Go! Memories of a Fight, a Life, and a Woman), her autobiography, which will be published tomorrow and which makes accusations against her family, according to the extracts published in El Mundo, which is publishing the work through La Esfera. “I don’t talk to my family,” writes the ex-player, married to businessman Pep Santacana since 2008 despite the “categorical” opposition of her family members. “They’ve left me with nothing.”

There are now two opposing books dedicated to one clan, the Sánchez Vicarios. The other is Forja de Campeones (Force of Champions), which was written by Emilio Sánchez and Marisa Vicario, the parents of Arantxa, Emilio (formerly #1 in doubles, #7 in singles, and an Olympic silver medalist), Javier (ex-#23), and Marisa; it speaks of the values that formed so many champions. The former player’s book, on the other hand, is the story of the destruction of these ties. There is a point of inflection. It occurred in 2010, when Forja was presented to the public. Arantxa did not attend: “the time had come to take off our masks and show that the myth of a united and happy Sánchez Vicario family was just that: a myth,” she writes. “My parents’ behavior has caused me a lot of suffering. In recent months, I have been through such difficult situations that there are still moments when I think I’m in a nightmare. What’s certain is that my relationship with my family doesn’t exist. How is it possible that everything I’ve obtained has disappeared, has ceased to be? (…) I’m the victim and the deceived.”

Dinero and discipline caused the rupture. “They’ve left me with nothing. I’m in debt to the Housing Department (she was condemned to pay €3.5 million in fines for paying taxes to Andorra while living in Spain), and my properties are very inferior to those of my brother Javier, for example, who has won much less than me over the course of his life. Could I accept this abuse and keep quiet? I wasn’t going to do it,” said the ex-tenista, who is 40. According to the WTA, which manages professional women’s tennis, Sánchez Vicario won about $17 million (some €12 million) during her career. The sponsorships she had during that time elevated her income to some €45 million by her count. Sources knowledgeable of the tennis world and her family are surprised by the insinuation of bankruptcy (“She has a boat, houses…”) and the elevated figure of her winnings: there are high taxes on tournament prizes (up to 35%), and Arantxa did not enjoy a large advertisement contract outside the tennis world (“like Sharapova’s style brands.”)

“My father has enjoyed full decision-making power over the management of my assets,” she said. “He has made the investments he considered opportune and administrated all my winnings. They gave me a certain amount of money every month, and I gave them a precise account statement; never for a moment did I worry enough to ask them about anything. I never doubted the way my father managed my money. Now I have nothing left,” she adds. “What happened with Housing was fatal. Establishing my residency in Andorra was my camp’s [their] decision.”

Arantxa, according to the book, which her parents’ lawyers are studying, was a girl who robbed a motorcycle to escape the tennis academy in which she was training. An adolescent whose her parents wanted her to go to bed early and leave her own birthday party. A champion weighed down by her “faithful shadow”, her mother – “for her, discipline and victory went before anything else, when sometimes what I needed most were caring words…I ended up doubting my self-worth and looking for help from psychologists to recover my self-esteem.” A tennis player who saw that her family managed everything in her life while her brother Emilio could make his own decisions from the age of 18. And a coach, finally, who yesterday only wanted to say of the Federation Cup, “I’m here because the players want me to be.”