High-level athletes, these great forgotten of the pension reform

Bad luck for Kylian Mbappé, the Paris Saint-Germain striker will be in Germany on March 7 to prepare for the C1 return match against Bayern Munich and will therefore not be able to participate in the big demonstration planned against the pension reform. However, according to Sandrine Rousseau, who inquired about the future of the vice-world champion, he would have good reason to take out his little protest card and go and pound the pavement with the trade unions and the workers that we will qualify as lambdas.

“On the career of athletes, since this is the amendment we are discussing today, I wonder myself: what will Mbappé do after 50 years? I do not know if Emmanuel Macron, when he was talking to Mbappé, spoke to him about his career when he will be a senior, ”launched the deputy Europe Écologie-Les Verts (EE-LV), on January 31 in Committee on Social Affairs, when defending an amendment aimed at including top-level athletes in the index of seniors (a system planned by the government to promote the employment of seniors in the context of the raising of the legal age of retirement).

If the example taken by Sandrine Rousseau has something to smile about, Mbappé earning a good enough living to support generations and generations of mini-him, the deputy is not so off the mark as his detractors have willing to believe so. “There is little chance that we will meet Mbappé in a demonstration on Tuesday, smiles the economist Pierre Rondeau. It seems to me to be an example misused but it is true that the subject concerns a lot of other sportsmen and women who could worry about an increase in their precariousness, already significant, because of this pension reform, and who could therefore be in the street on Tuesday. Because, if Mbappé has the means to put aside and see it coming without too many problems, the vast majority of top athletes do not have the same facilities and experience great difficulties after their career. »

Short and choppy careers

Having for the most part sacrificed part of their youth and their studies to devote themselves to the practice of their sport, which is nonetheless a profession, the athletes, who have ultra-short and sometimes poorly remunerated careers, n therefore have no opportunity to contribute to their retirement during this period. And once removed from the fields, basins or athletic tracks, around the age of thirty (in the best case), they do not work long enough to be able to benefit from a pension at a fixed rate. full and many experience serious economic difficulties throughout their lives, whether they manage to find a job quickly or not. Sometimes to the point of regretting having given their body to sport for the nation’s influence.

This is the case of the judoka Emilie Andeol, gold medalist at the Rio Olympics in 2016, who found herself unemployed at the end of her career and wondered if the game had been worth the candle. In 2015, a report by the Secretary of State for Sports Thierry Braillard estimated that “four out of ten high-level athletes earned less than 500 euros per month”. Reconverted for a time to supporting top athletes after his career as a fencer, Olympic medalist Robert Leroux (1996) made the bitter observation: “Many told me that they ate pasta every night under pain of not being able to finance their equipment, and they were Olympic medalists! “.

Always quick to recover the slightest success of our athletes on the international scene, politicians seem less concerned about the future of athletes once they retire. And it is not the current pension reform that will restore some fairness. “Far from being interested in their fate, the pension reform project defended by the government of Élisabeth Borne does not provide for any improvement or any creation of a specific scheme, write Pierre Rondeau and the co-director of the sports observatory, Richard Bouigue, on the Jean Jaurès Foundation website. Worse, it would risk altering their situation even more: by pushing back the legal retirement age by two years, even for the long careers of those who would have started working before the age of twenty – which is the case for many sportsmen –, we take the risk of keeping them longer in a condition of economic and social uncertainty before they can benefit from a retirement pension which, resulting from a choppy career, will therefore be discounted. »

For a specific diet for top athletes

It should be noted, however, that a system was introduced in 2012 whereby the State undertakes to contribute instead of athletes, within the limit of four quarters per year and sixteen quarters in total, in order to compensate for the lag related to late entry into the job market. Problems, the conditions for benefiting from it are such that, according to Philippe Gonigam, the president of the National Union of High Level Athletes quoted by Release, “this only concerns 500 high-level athletes” out of the 1,500 in France alone in individual sport. In 2019, this same Philippe Gonigam already nuanced the impact of this device, explaining that it remained “a conditioned retirement, far below what a normal employee can claim”.

In addition, this system has no retroactive effect and thus penalizes a good number of former top athletes. As such, the Modem MP for Morbihan and former skipper winner of the Transat AG2R, Jimmy Pahun, tabled an amendment to the pension bill to allow all athletes appearing on the ministerial lists since 1984 to see their quarters not contributed to be compensated by the State, in response to a request from the Collective of French champions, who wrote an open letter to the President of the Republic to complain about this situation. For Robert Leroux, it is “neither more nor less than demanding equal treatment. The distinction made between athletes who represented the France team before or after 2012 seems totally unfair to us. »

“That the State put this in place is a bare minimum, reacts Pierre Rondeau. But that we do not consider high-level athletes in a specific diet remains a profound injustice”. If he assures our colleagues of Release that “a few deputies wish to take up the subject”, Philippe Gonigam regrets all the same not having “heard of any specific measure” in the reform proposed by the government. And for good reason, there is none. “Unfortunately, for things to move, as we are in a kind of Republic of miscellaneous facts, we would have to note the problem factually via examples of Olympic medal-winning athletes who find themselves in immense precariousness at the end of their career”, breathes Pierre Rondeau. Or that Kylian Mbappé joins the ranks of the CGT and demonstrates at the head of the procession on Tuesday afternoon.

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