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Volume 6 No. 212


U.K. tax authority HMRC "has opened a new front in the battle to collect" the £32B ($49B) in tax it estimates goes unpaid in Britain every year -- pursuing football coaches, according to David Conn of the London GUARDIAN. HMRC has written to 3,300 coaches understood to have a UEFA level qualification -- the more professional end of the game -- "calling on them to disclose and pay any outstanding tax or face possible criminal charges." The FA, which was under a legal obligation to cooperate, "has supplied the names and addresses of the 3,300 licensed coaches." In HMRC's letter, the 3,300 people, which will include some well-qualified coaches working part-time at semi-professional level, up to the biggest clubs, are urged to come forward "or face more than a red card." The letter suggests that some coaches, many of whom work odd hours at different clubs, "are not declaring some or all of the money they make, and that tax will be owing." The letter said, "I am sharing with you the fact that we have received extensive data about coaches from sources in the football community." It calls on coaches to declare unpaid tax, "Before we complete our risk assessment of that data." HMRC would not say how much money its sources suggested "has been paid to football coaches and not declared as income" (GUARDIAN, 5/14).

In "football-obsessed" Kenya, like much of Africa, the game "is more than just a sport for the laborers inside this brightly lit workshop on the outskirts of Nairobi, football is also serious business," according to Teo Kermeliotis of CNN. Surrounded by Arsenal and Liverpool team posters on either side of the walls, the blue-shirted workers "meticulously cut and stitch pieces of leather." Eyes straight down, "they put the final touches on the white and yellow footballs they're crafting on their wooden work stations." This is the Kenya-based hub of the only formal manufacturer of sports balls in Africa, Alive & Kicking. The social enterprise, which has two more plants in Zambia and Ghana, "uses the widespread popularity of football in the continent to help create jobs and offer disadvantaged children access to sport equipment." Alive & Kicking CEO Sughra Hussain said, "In Africa, the passion for football is absolutely immense. But according to our calculations, a third of children have actually never played with a real football before." Over the last nine years, Alive & Kicking "has produced more than 500,000 balls, including volleyballs and netballs." About half of them are sold in the major supermarkets of the countries the group works in, at a cost of around $18. However, Alive & Kicking, which employs 130 people in three countries, "is not only interested in the retail side of the business." More than just a company, the group "has donated a fifth of the balls it's produced -- more than 100,000 -- to schools and children's projects" (CNN, 5/15).

Brown Shoe Company has announced that it is selling Avia, its brand of running, walking and fitness-oriented footwear, along with Nevados, an outdoor shoe brand, to Galaxy Brand Holdings for $74M (ISPO). ... Bike manufacturer Specialized and Invista, the brand owner of Coolmax and Lycra, joined forces to support governmental action against illegal websites designed to distribute counterfeits in the U.S. and around the world (ISPO).