Is football the best-paid sport in the world?

Published 32 Comments

Football News

David Beckham was revealed to be the most wealthy footballer on the planet this week, with the former England man said to be worth £175 million.

The list, compiled by, certainly got tongues wagging, and for a bit of background on the list, the website interviewed Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand.

The Red Devils stalwart admitted footballers get paid an obscene amount of money, but then added the caveat that compared to other sportsman, they are paupers.

So that got us thinking. Despite the usual headlines, are footballers really underpaid compared to their fellow sportsmen and women from around the globe? 

GMF decided to investigate into just who earns the most money from their sport. Our list only takes into account how much each sportsman earned from their respective sports in the last year, so no endorsements or commercial deals are included.


Samuel Eto'o, €20 million

So a good place to start is the highest paid footballer, and that is of course Samuel Eto'o who pockets an extraordinary €20 million, which works out at roughly £17.5 million.

The Cameroonian striker is raking it in at Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala, and is ahead of the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic at PSG - although interestingly the Swede is only just behind Eto'o despite paying an astronomical 75% tax rate in France.

American Football

Joe Flacco, $20.1 million

From football to American football and the NFL, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is the highest player in his sport, taking home a staggering $20.1 million a season thanks to a new six-year deal.

At the current exchanger rate, $20.1m works out at roughly £13.5m and €15.3m - making him slightly less well-paid than Eto'o in terms of his salary from his sport.


LeBron James, $13m

So Rio was wrong in that respect, the highest-paid American football star earns less than his equivalent in 'soccer'. But what about other sports from across the pond?

LeBron James, who took the decision to take his talents to Miami Heat, pockets around $13m from his current deal with the NBA outfit.

It doesn't take a genius to work out that this is less than both Flacco and Eto'o, and works out at around £8.75m, or €9.9m. Evidently he's not quite the King when it comes to taking home the most cash.


Floyd Mayweather - $85m

So far, football has come out on top, but the big dogs of boxing take home some pretty serious cash and they don't come much bigger than Floyd Mayweather.

Even with turning down the chance to fight Manny Pacquiao over the past few years, and with it the opportunity to earn more in a single fight than most people can even dream of making in their lifetime, "Money" Mayweather still earns more than any other sportsman on the planet.

Yep, the 36-year-old pocketed $85 million (£57.1m, €65.2m) last year from two fights against Miguel Cotto and Victor Ortiz, making him officially the highest paid athlete in the world.


Novak Djokovic - $12,803,737

Although someone like Roger Federer pocketed over $50 million over the last year, the vast majority of that came from sponsorship deals. 

When it comes to earnings on the court, the Swiss master is eclipsed by Djokovic, who claimed over $12 million (£8.07m, €9.21m) in 2012.


Rory McIlroy

Once again, Tiger Woods leads the way in terms of overall wealth thanks to his many sponsors (even after THAT incident), but McIlroy's success on the course made him golf's top earner last season.

The Northern Irishman, who signed his own mega deal with Nike recently and will certainly challenge Woods for the top spot in golf when the overall rich list for 2013 is announced, pocketed $8.047m (roughly £5.4m or €6.1m) from his exploits in 2012.

So there you have it. Although boxer Floyd Mayweather takes top spot when it comes to earnings from his sport, Samuel Eto'o is the next in line, surprisingly ahead of the likes of Rory McIlroy, Joe Flacco and LeBron James.

But what other sports have the best paid sportsmen? Alex Rodriguez is paid around $27 million with the New York Yankees but still can't eclipse Mayweather, while Fernando Alonso, who earns €30 million, is in a similar boat.

Although all three will likely have a greater capacity to attract sponsors than Eto'o, it is interesting to see that footballers can indeed be amongst the best paid sportsmen in the world.


Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE:

European News
Premier League
Manchester United
Rio Ferdinand

Article Comments

Read more

Report author of article

Please let us know if you believe this article is in violation of our editorial policy, please only report articles for one of the following reasons.

Report author


This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Want more content like this?

Like our GiveMeSport Facebook Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to Facebook, don't ask me again

Follow GiveMeSport on Twitter and you will get this directly to you.

Already Following, don't ask me again

Like our GiveMeSport Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to G+, don't ask me again