According to SPORTINFORM, top scorer of Kazakhstan Premier League, former FC Astana forward Junior Kabananga Kalonji signed a $2 million 2.5-year contract with Saudi Arabian Al-Nassr FC.
Born in Kinshasa, he made his senior debut as a professional football player for Belgian club Anderlecht in the season of 2010-2011. Kabananga moved on loan to Germinal Beerschot in January 2011, and then spent the season of 2012-2013 on loan at Roeselare. In July 2013, he signed a permanent 2-year contract with Cercle Brugge.
At the expiration of its period, Kabananga signed a 2.5-year contract with Kazakhstan Premier League side FC Astana. It was the case in June 2015. On 27 July 2017, Kabananga signed a new 2 year contract with Astana. It felt like the Congolese would end his career as a professional football player in Kazakhstan. He is already approaching 30. But that had not happened. On 31 January 2018, Kabananga signed the actual contract with Al-Nassr.
He won three Kazakhstan championship titles with the Astana-based club and became one of its top players in the season of 2017-2018. Kabananga played 56 games in the KPL, scoring 29 goals.
But what were the terms under which he joined FC Astana less than three years ago?
In 2015, Jeune Afrique, a French language weekly news magazine published in Paris, in a report entitled «Footballeurs africains au Kazakhstan, un exotisme payant» – «African footballers in Kazakhstan, a paid exoticism», quoted Junior Kabananga Kalonji, who just had at the time started playing for Kazakh team Astana as a striker, as saying:
«I should admit that I thought about it for approximately 3 months when I had been offered to go play in Kazakhstan. But there was an interesting sporting challenge, with the opportunity to play in the Champions League, and I earn here much more than in Belgium. In Kazakhstan, salaries are net of taxes».
Based on the observed context, one can reasonably assume that Junior Kabananga Kalonji was referring to the fact that his salary at FC Astana was exempt from (payroll and etc) taxes. If this assumption proves correct, the question arises: did it meet the requirements of RK (the Republic of Kazakhstan) tax law?!
In Kazakhstan, according to current practice, employers withhold a percentage of the employee’s gross salary as a payment on account of the employee’s income tax.
In this respect, there is no difference between the Kazakh capital Astana and the Belgian city of Bruges, where Junior Kabananga Kalonji had previously been playing.
In Belgium, an employee receives a monthly net salary where the payroll tax and social security contributions have already been deducted from at source by the employer.
So, we can assume that practice of payment of wages to this Congolese international footballer in Kazakhstan apparently differed from that in Belgium.
It should be recalled that employees of international organizations can only exempt their wages from the Kazakh income tax by meeting the requirements of Kazakhstan’s tax law.
Let us now turn to another issue, an issue of critical importance to Kazakhstan’s football as a whole. The question is as follows: is it good that our football serves as an intermediate springboard for those African and East European football players who didn’t manage to position themselves in the world’s best clubs and venues?
Time.kz, in an article entitled «Вы копите – мы обрящем!» -«You save – we’ll have it!» and published in October 2016, said: «Yerlan Kozhagapanov, president of the Kazakh national football federation, said: «Today, in Kazakhstan, between 30 and 60 per cent of the regional budgets for sports are spent on financial support for the local professional football clubs. Most of the money is used for financing salaries for legionnaires, some incredible agency fees and installation benefits!
Thus, our national professional football has taken more than one billion euro since 2004!
Children’s football (football, i.e. soccer for children) has got little or nothing! Our budget money has even more actively contributed to promoting children’s and youth’s football in the African and Balkan countries».
Football Federation of Kazakhstan (FFK) was founded in 1992 with the reorganization of the Soviet Republican Football Association of the Kazakh SSR. After a little while, the Football Association of Kazakhstan became an associate member of FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). FFK has developed into the biggest sport federation of the country, football in Kazakhstan being regarded as the «king of sports», occupying first place in sport fans’ preferences.
In 2000, the Football Federation of Kazakhstan became a candidate member of UEFA and obtained its full membership a couple of years later.