February 10, 2015
Astronomical sums for top footballers

A major talking point in the world of sport, and beyond, in the wider global society, are the astronomical sums made by the leading sportsmen and sportswomen. Not that people begrudge their earnings, for goodness knows the tremendous sacrifice they have to make to get to the top and to stay there.{{more}}

It is just that in a world of growing inequality, one cannot avoid noticing the disparity between the top earners in the field of sport and those of their fans who so adore and support them.

The BBC has just put this disparity into focus with an exercise on its website which enables one to calculate how long it would take an ordinary person to match the wages of leading global football superstars.

Take the top earner, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, for instance. He is listed as earning 20.8 million euros per year, approximately EC$62 million. In Spain, where Messi plays, it would take a worker at Spain’s minimum wage of just over 9,000 euros a year, more than 2,300 years to work for what Messi earns in one year. Put another way, it would take only four minutes for Messi to earn what that worker will get paid for a whole week’s work. For Messi’s great rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, the comparable figures are 2015 years for the worker to work for his annual salary and six minutes for Ronaldo to earn the weekly minimum wage.

If one takes the UK, the comparisons are similar. England’s top earner, Wayne Rooney, earns as much in one year (15 million euros) as a worker would have to work over 1100 years at the minimum wage to accumulate, and it would take him only nine minutes to earn what a worker would get for a week’s work at the minimum wage. The Welsh footballer Gareth Bale, who made a record transfer to Real Madrid, would take only seven minutes for the worker’s weekly minimum wage.

Football managers are not paid as much as top players, but they earn many times what ordinary workers would get. Pep Guardiola, who led Barcelona to a host of trophies and is now with Bayern Munich in Germany, makes 18.5 million euros a year, a sum which would require a German minimum wage worker 1044 years to accumulate, while Jose Mourinho of Chelsea earns in only 16 minutes what a British worker would get for a week’s work at the minimum wage in the UK where he is based.

What about comparisons for St Vincent? A Vincentian worker earning EC$1,200 monthly would take more than 5,000 years to work for Ronaldo’s annual salary and over 4,000 years for Neymar’s, while in two minutes Messi would earn what the Vincentian worker would get for a week’s work, and what Yaya Toure, whose Ivory Coast has just won the African championship, would earn in three minutes.

That’s how big the gap is! (Contributed)