Why do footballers earn so much?

We often see top football players earning huge chunks of money in weakly wages & using these riches to live a lavish life. The recent contract rumours of Kylian Mbappe suggest that he will earn 50 Million Euros if he joins Real Madrid next season, this move will make him the most expensive player in the history of football.

According to Forbes, in 2020 Lionel Messi made $125M and Cristiano Ronaldo earned $116M both before taxes. These are obviously huge sums of money and are equally mind blowing to many masses because of the huge margin compared to typical salaries. This leads to questions like- Why do football players earn so much money? Are they overpaid? Why is so much money spent on footballers?

The Economist-Researcher Richard Duhautois states that not every footballer earns a lot of money. Around 50% of football players earn under $1,000 a month. Even in the European Big Five, there are very few players who earn a lot of money and it is what we call “The Superstar Effect”. Football is probably the most popular team game in the world, so the superstar players have their own distinct roles to play, therefore earning the respective wages which indeed is high, in return for their performances. It is not possible for an average player to score in consecutive games like Cristiano, Messi, Benzema or Suarez

In short, only star footballers earn high salaries. The star players are basically the top professional players who have the ability to create a difference in the field with their exceptional talent and are rewarded for the same reason. The more talent you have, the more value you bring to the team, the more you will be paid. The talent helps to win certain national and international matches and tournaments bringing along the popularity and fan base that is willing to spend money on tickets to watch their favourite team or players play. This might one of the main reason why Cristiano Ronaldo is still the most expensive player at 37 years of age.

Where does football clubs get money from?

The big money is not always earned by the clubs but by providing sponsorship, merchandises, TV, all that produce a lot of money through marketing and fan service and the money is distributed among the players. Career length also plays a pivoting role in the high wage payment of footballers.

The average career of a footballer is around 6 to 8 years at the professional level or in an ideal situation it lasts between 10 and 15 years, in any case, the career length is short and a typical salary format would not secure the future of the players hence the high salaries. 

Football is not a sport anymore, it is a business The combination of talent and financial structure of football resulted in a huge impact on the game of football in later times because even in earlier times there were many talented footballers but they were not as well paid as players of today.

Of course, Maradona and Pele were legends but were they paid as much as CR7 or Messi? The answer is obviously ‘No’. During the 70s television, sponsorship etc., did not pursue the entertainment business of football and the clubs’ revenues mainly came from ticket sales and they obviously didn’t have enough money to pay the footballers heftily.

According to Richard Duhautois, it was in the 80s that things started to change when the league games were broadcast for the time. Eventually, the arrival of TV rights, sponsorships, Bosman ruling that allowed players to change any team and go to play anywhere they wanted leading them to the highest bidder, all these things resulted in football entering the entertainment industry. The historic clubs like Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Manchester United etc., saw their capital increasing day by day and as a result, investors bid only on top players as their prior resources of profit thus raising their best footballers’ salaries. 

An interesting fact here that might add to the information is that between 1999 and 2019 the salary of the highest-paid football player in the world increased by 1125%. Clubs are in competition to offer the highest wages to the best players who could win them important matches and tournaments, winning them will make them gain monetary returns like signing bonuses from organizers and also money spent on jerseys, other merchandise and tickets by fans of the teams that the clubs own.

A club with more success will have more TV rights, and the media and sponsors will pay the club exclusively. Thus, the clubs’ could pay their players enormously as at the end of the day they are the main focus or the “stars” of the game. So to see from this perspective, football has become more and more profitable alongside getting more and more popular, so the players are more or less paid wilfully by those who are interested in investing both their time and money on them, be it the fans or the clubs and organisers.

If people someday start to lose interest in football or move on to a new game, clubs won’t be able to make such high profits ceasing the demand for those best players hence dropping their wages. Fascination and following go hand in hand and so does players’ demand and high salaries. 

Do footballers deserve to get paid so much?

The debate of are footballers paid “too much”? Footballers’ salaries are often heavily criticized, even by other athletes who too are paid high amounts ironically. Other sports players such as Golfers, Formula 1 drivers, Tennis players, even actors and singers are paid huge sums of money through almost the same process of money-making.

Footballers and the game itself provides us, fans, with so many emotions and not to forget is a great means of social mobility. Many footballers like Romelu Lukaku, Ángel Di Maria, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cristiano Ronaldo; all grew up in poverty and are now masters of their own lives, living millionaire lives through their hard work and absolute talent.

Sure enough, doctors, nurses, or other front line workers deserve a good payment but that doesn’t mean that football players who equally dedicate their time to the game and work hard to train both physically and mentally, don’t deserve their pay, they have earned it and purely deserves it. And as by now we know that around 50% of the football players earn under $1,000 a month, there’s also the question of equitable distribution of money in the football sphere too.

In the end, there’s this game, which unites millions of fans together, stays in your hearts and rewards the worthy. People might still think if players earning crazy wages is justified for the things they do differently on the field. The same people should understand if it was so easy everyone would have done it. One thing we know is that people will never stop loving the beautiful game and the legacy will continue. The business will flourish with footballers going social more than ever and we might see a very different wage structure in future.

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