David Beckham Dethroned as Top Earner In Football

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Lionel Messi scored his second hatrick in a row in  Barcelona’s 4-2 win over Zaragoza on Sunday. The little Argentine’s sensational form has drawn comparisons to the world’s greatest player with many arguing that he in fact is the greatest player to ever play the beautiful game. So it isn’t very surprising that he has replaced David Beckham to become the best-paid footballer in the world according, to France Football magazine’s annual “rich list“. The Argentina forward is said to have made £29.6m (sum of salaries, bonuses and sponsorships) last year making him the 4th highest paid athlete in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and LeBron James.

Messi , who helped Barcelona win the treble last season was paid a £3.6 million bonus which is what helped him de-throne David Beckham who has held the top spot on the rich list for the last 2 years. The falling value of the dollar is another factor working in favour of the magnificent Messi.

David Beckham came in at number 2 with an annual income £27.3 million followed closely by Messi’s predecessor as the World Player of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo  raking in £27 million.

France’s Football Magazine’s Rich List

1.Lionel Messi (Barcelona) £29.6m
2. David Beckham (LA Galaxy/Milan) £27.3m
3. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) £27m
4. Kaka (Real Madrid) £16.9m
5. Thierry Henry (Barcelona) £16.1m
6. Ronaldinho (AC Milan) £15.5m
7. Carlos Tevez (Manchester City) £13.8m
8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Barcelona) £13m
9. Frank Lampard (Chelsea) £12.8m
10. Samuel Eto’o (Inter Milan) £12.4m

It is interesting to note that only two of the players in the top-ten highest paid footballers, Frank Lampard of Chelsea and Carlos Tevez of Manchester City ply their trade in the English Premier League. This strange statistic probably because of  the big earners wanting to escape the large hike in taxes for high income earners in the UK.

It is also interesting to see, that although the reported incomes are very high, they are not even close to the kind of money that is made by boxers or Formula 1 racers. Of course, the difference in the salaries could be justified by  pointing out that footballer don’t literally put their life at risk like racers or boxers do. Footballers incomes have increased many fold in the last few years but it is very surprising indeed to not that they are still very far-off from the incomes earned in American sports by NFL, NBA or MLB sportsman.



  1. Great article Rhea,
    A big chunk of their revenue comes from advertising and sponsoring. Beckham has been wiser in that area than others. It’s great that you put their revenues in perspective by comparing with F1 drivers or boxers or even with NFL, NBA athletes.
    It all goes down to the appeal of the sport. Football has a greater appeal and opportunities for revenues (sponsorship, TV rights) with a more global focus.

    • Rhea said

      Very true Karl. Messi for example makes around €19 million ($25.4m) annually from endorsements and sponsorships, which include Adidas, Pepsi and Gillette. While Becks and Posh, I think are absolutely brilliant at marketing themselves!

  2. Football said

    Still baffling that Beckham is even that high on the list…

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