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At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, a picture of a “Spanish researcher” with the quote, “You give footballers a million dollars a month and a biological researcher 1,500 per month, and now you look for a Coronavirus treatment. Go to Messi or Cristiano, and they will get you a cure.” Well, despite the phrase makes sense; it was fake; the lady in the picture wasn’t even a researcher. Still, it raises a good question, how much does a soccer player make?
Soccer players’ earnings vary depending on several factors like age, skills, gender, position in the field, the league they are playing for, and so forth. For instance, superstars like Cristiano make $30 million a year, but Italy’s average player makes $1.6 million.
It would be hard to believe that a team was expelled from the FA Cup in England at the end of the 1800s after its manager admitted that the players of his team, Preston North End, were being paid to play. A few years later, the FA realized that “Association Football” (soccer’s first name) will benefit from having professional players.
That’s how the ancestors of the multimillionaire athletes from today were born.
How do soccer players get paid?
In modern soccer, the salaries of the players are calculated on a weekly wage. Some people think it’s because soccer players are considered working-class; some believe it’s because the astronomical contracts sound less obscene that way.
Whatever the reason is, players get paid what’s stipulated in their contracts in twelve payments, not weekly. That’s for their salaries, the bonuses are a different story.
Countries with the 13th salary politics pay an additional salary to footballers at the end of the year, just like a regular worker.
When players get injured, they still receive part of their salaries, even when they’re not working. In Spain, the league ensures players receive full salaries when injured. In Germany, they’re paid only for a few weeks, and in England, players have eighteen months of salary guaranteed, but not all of it.
In many South American countries, soccer clubs offer contracts beyond their economic possibilities, and players end up getting their salaries with months of delay. In some cases, they don’t even get any money. This kind of story generally ends up in court or solved by transferring the player to another club.
FIFA established in its disciplinary code that debtor clubs should receive sanctions when they fail to honor their debts. The code says clubs could be forbidden from incorporating new players or losing points. Still, FIFA states that every national association is responsible for deciding these sanctions. And that’s why clubs have massive debts with no consequences, but that’s a story for a different day.
How much does a soccer player make?
William Sudell, the Preston North End’s manager, was not only paying his players to play; he was also importing them from Scotland. To seal the deal, he would get them an excellent job in the city of Preston too.
In the early 1900s, soccer players were making around $6 per week during the season. In summer, when the competition was off, they earned between $3.5 to $4.
Sounds like little money, right? Let’s consider that at that time, tram drivers were paid $3 for a 60-hours week. And people working at the docks earn $2 for a 44-hour week.
Life was different back then, cheaper. Today the story is entirely different. Soccer players are millionaires; they have image rights and sportswear contracts, bonuses for winning competitions and scoring, for clean sheets; they participate in commercials, and more.
How much money does a soccer player make per week?
Soccer players earn money not only from their clubs but from their sponsors as well. World-class footballers usually have an exclusive contract with a sports brand, like Messi with Adidas, Cristiano with Nike, or Neymar with Puma.
Their contracts include bonuses that make their salary grow weekly. For instance, a player that gets a bonus per goal will increase its wage as many times as it scores.
Spotrac published the estimated weekly salaries of the English Premier League recently. The list shows Gareth Bale from Tottenham leading the ranking, earning near an $800,000 weekly wage, and Leif Davis from Leeds earning $790.
The English Premier League leads the ranking for the highest weekly wages. Spanish La Liga comes in second, Italian Serie A in third, the German Bundesliga forth, and Ligue 1 from France closes the list.
In England, a forward between 23 to 29 years old makes on average $85,000 per week, in Spain around $58,000, according to the Global Sports Salaries Survey 2019.
How much do soccer players earn per month?
As mentioned above, footballers received the amount agreed on their contracts in twelve payments. It is possible to establish an average for each league, but this amount will change according to each team’s success.
For instance, if a team gets to the end of the tournament with chances of winning it, bonuses that weren’t there at the beginning of the season might show up and add extra money to their wages.
There are also the “incentives” clubs receive sometimes. Soccer has plenty of stories where a club receives money to beat their next rival, paid by a third party, another club that will benefit from that team’s defeat.
These incentives’ stories are commonly told by retired players admitting they played “encouraged” by other teams to win a match. Legend says there were also payments for losing games on purpose. Still, no soccer player admitted such a thing in public, ever.
Even when soccer salaries are astronomical these days, every league in the world decided to force wage cuts into footballers due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Each association is dealing with it differently, but most teams in the world agreed with it. The cuts go from 30% to 50%, and even more, like Lionel Messi, who decided to cut %70 of its salary.
Who is the highest-paid soccer player?
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo compete head-to-head even in who’s the highest-paid soccer player. In this category, as in many others, the Argentinian beats the Portuguese.
It makes sense that the team’s best players earn more. After all, superstars are generally responsible for making their team win. And when their teams lose, they receive harsh treatment from the press and the fans.
But in soccer, it is not always like that. For instance, the Chinese Super League invests heavily to improve its league popularity and competition level. To compete in a less competitive league like the Chinese, soccer players demand vast amounts of money.
In 2011, the Chinese Guangzhou Evergrande paid over $8 million to sign the Argentinian Darío Conca from Fluminense FC from Brazil. Conca’s weekly wage was $225,000, the highest-paid footballer after Messi and Cristiano.
Players like Diego Forlán, elected best player of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Luis Suarez, Xavi, Samuel Eto’o, Iniesta, and Wayne Rooney were behind Darío Conca in the highest-earners list.
Something similar happened with the Argentinian Ezequiel Lavezzi in 2017. The player signed a $53 million contract over 23 months for the Hebei China Fortune. Lavezzi was the highest earner in the world of soccer for a few months until Messi and Cristiano updated their contracts with Barcelona and Real Madrid.
The same happens when we look at the past. Maradona and Pelé are considered the greatest players that ever played the sport. The Brazilian, a squad member of the national team in three World Cup championships, played his entire career for Santos and signed for the New York Cosmos in a free transfer.
In the times of Pelé, the migration of South American players to the old continent wasn’t frequent. South American and European clubs had similar levels.
In Maradona times, European clubs already had their eyes on the talented South American players. It was more common seeing players migrating to the major clubs of Europe.
In 1982, Maradona was hired from Boca Juniors for $7.6 million, a world record at that time. Then he went from Barcelona to Napoli, establishing another world record, a $10.48 million fee. That’s less than half of what Messi makes in a year.
Coming back to the present, who is the highest-paid soccer player? Let’s see.
- Lionel Messi. The Argentinian is the 2020’s best-paid footballer in the world. The Barcelona FC player earns $126 a year considering salary and endorsements. Messi signed a lifetime deal with Adidas, and he has contracts signed with Gatorade, Pepsi, and the Chinese Huawei.
- Cristiano Ronaldo. Cristiano earns $70 million of gross salary paid by Juventus, plus $47 million on endorsements. The Portuguese star signed a lifetime deal with Nike worth $1 billion and several others with Herbalife, EA Sports, among others. The player born in Madeira is also the most followed on social media public figure in the world.
- Neymar. The Brazilian superstar earns $96 million per year. The Paris Saint Germain pays the Paulista a $78 million annual salary and $18 million in endorsements to complete the number. Nike Air Jordan made him the first soccer player to have a custom model before the Brazilian signed a deal with Puma. Neymar has sponsorship contracts signed with Red Bull and Mc Donald’s.
- Kylian Mbappé. The French international earns $42 million a year. His salary at Paris Saint Germain is $28 million, plus $14 million in endorsements. Mbappé has deals signed with Nike, the video game FIFA 21, and the watchmaker Hublot.
- Mohamed Salah. The Liverpool winger earns $24 million a year plus $13 million in endorsements, totalizing $37 million of gross income. He has contracts signed with Adidas and Vodafone Egypt.
Most players earn according to the value they add to their team. Having a superstar in the squad means more tickets and shirts sold, television rights will be higher, and so forth.
But being a superstar that sells tickets and it’s on the cover of videogames and magazines is not enough. A superstar needs to help its team win, scoring goals, or facilitating them. That’s why players have clauses in their contracts offering bonuses for scoring, assisting, or ending with a clean sheet.
How much does a soccer player make per goal?
Apart from dominating tactics and strategies, soccer managers need to handle locker rooms’ egos. A goalkeeper earns the lowest salary in any soccer team. Superstar goalkeepers like Donnaruma or Neuer might not have the lowest pay, but certainly not higher than their team’s midfielders.
Strikers are the highest earners of any team. It must be hard to work as a team when only one player takes all the credit and the bigger bonus.
A forward not only earns the juiciest salary but also gets a bonus per goal. Next time you see two footballers arguing about who should take the penalty, remember that.
Goal bonuses paid by clubs are usually kept under wraps. It’s sensitive information that usually generates shock in both the press and the public. Here are some examples.
- In 2017, Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored 28 goals for Manchester United. The Swedish had an arrangement with the team from Manchester. From goal 1 to 5, $60,000 per goal. Goal 6 to 10 $102,000. From goal 11 to 15 $143,000 per goal. Yes, and it goes on. From 16 to 20 $153,000. And from goal 21 to 35, $184,000.
- In 2017, The Ivorian former Arsenal FC player Gervinho revealed that he earned more than $170,000 per goal and around $67,000 per appearance playing for the Hebei China Fortune.
- In 2018, the Liverpool player Roberto Firmino scored a hat-trick worth $179,000. The Brazilian received $33,000 from the 1st to the 5th goal playing for the Red Devils, and $59,000 from goal 6 to 10. The third of that hat-trick was Firmino’s goal number 9 so far.
- In 2019, after a subpar performance in Manchester United, scoring only five goals in 45 matches, Alexis Sanchez received $6.6 million in bonuses. The British media said that the Chilean got more than $1 million per goal, but that wasn’t the case. The goal bonus of Sanchez was $99,000 per goal and $26,000 per assist. Still, the amount was astonishing.
If we look at the world, the only industry that never stopped growing in the last decades is the entertainment industry. That could explain why soccer players make these astronomical amounts of money.
Soccer players earn high salaries compared to the rest of the workers since the beginning of professionalism. Although the gap nowadays is a little more significant. Nowadays, a tram worker makes around $1,300 per week and a Premier League footballer more than $67,000. Why is that gap so big?
Why are soccer players paid so much?
It can be explained by supply and demand. If a product has a high demand, and there is not enough to supply everyone, the prize goes high. Let’s put it this way, every league has between five or ten super talented players and 20 teams. Those clubs’ demand will raise the prize of the most gifted players; it makes sense if we look at it that way.
Talented players have more chances of leading a team to victory; that’s why they will pay more to get those players’ services.
Another reason could be that a footballer career is relatively short if compared with others. A soccer player usually starts his career between 18 and 20 years old, and in some cases, can play until 32 or 33 years old.
There are rare cases of players acting after that age, like Roger Milla from Cameroon that played until after his 40. Or the Colombian Faryd Mondragon that played in the World Cup in Brazil 2014 at age 43.
Still, most players, on average, have a ten or fifteen years career.
But why players’ salaries grew that much over the last years?
It’s because soccer clubs reach every corner of the world thanks to globalization, and the consumption of their products multiplied by billions. Television companies pay more than ever to each league for the exclusive rights to broadcast the games.
Soccer is the world’s most popular game. Every person with any electronic device with internet access can watch live any game of any league worldwide.
The first Premier League tournament in 1992 received $260 million in TV rights. The amount paid by the TV to broadcast the English Premier League in 2016 was $5 billion.
Soccer players generate thousands of times more than what they earn, no doubt. In third-world countries, clubs pray every day to have a wunderkind in their squads to sell to Europe.
Some clubs finished the work in their stadium after selling a kid from their base.
In 2006, Atlético de Madrid signed Sergio Aguero from the Argentinian club Independiente for more than $22 million. With that money, the most significant transfer in the history of Independiente, the Argentinian club built one of the country’s more sophisticated training centers.
We hear often players say that they owe a lot to their clubs, but in many cases is quite the opposite.