Lionel Messi insisted on Wednesday that he "understood nothing about tax," according to FOOTBALL ESPANA. Messi "was hit by tax fraud allegations last month but defended himself when questioned" following a practice. Messi: "I am relaxed and distance myself from all that. My father and I have advisers who handle these things for us, and we trust them. I hope it gets sorted out. I don't understand any of it and that's why we have lawyers" (FOOTBALL ESPANA, 7/17). REUTERS' Iain Rogers reported Messi is one of the world's highest-paid athletes and earns just more than $20M a season in wages and bonuses. He also pulls in about $21M in endorsements from sponsors including adidas, Pepsi and P&G and is 10th on Forbes' latest list of top-earning athletes (REUTERS, 7/17).
The Asia Footwear Association said that Chinese shoe manufacturers have lost 30% of orders to factories in Southeast Asia since '08 "due to the increase in manufacturing costs," according to Liu Xiaozhuo of CHINA DAILY. AFA Secretary General Li Peng said that China's labor costs "have increased rapidly" after the financial crisis of '08. The salary of Chinese shoemakers has "gone up 3.5 times" from '03 to '13. Pou Chen Group, "the largest athletic and casual footwear manufacturer in the world," is a manufacturer for major int'l brands such as Nike, adidas and Reebok. Pou Chen transferred parts of production from China to Indonesia and Vietnam last year, and in '13 "the company continues to adjust the distribution of its production capacity on the Chinese mainland, Indonesia and Vietnam to reach a balance." Statistics released by Pou Chen "show that it had 204 production lines on the Chinese mainland" by the end of '12, down from 255 at the end of '11. Meanwhile, "its production lines in Indonesia and Vietnam have been increased" from 134 to 157 and 140 to 156, respectively (CHINA DAILY, 7/17).