Forbes’ inaugural SportsMoney 50-50 list (a system used to rank the 50 most valuable teams and the 50 most valuable athletes across all world sport) were announced yesterday and, whilst the individual standings were stacked heavily in favour of American sports stars (NBA players occupy 14 slots, NFL players 9), there are six footballers that feature in the top 50.
Despite his various recent infidelities, golfing icon Tiger Woods tops the list with an estimated annual income of over $100 million (thanks to his lucrative tie-ins with Nike and Gillette amongst others) with boxer Floyd Mayweather Jnr and basketball player Kobe Bryant making up the top three.
It should come as no surprise that topping the footballers’ standings (though only making fifth position in the list proper, one place behind golfer Phil Mickelson) is one David Beckham, who has become somewhat of a one-man global super-brand over the past decade of his career – raking in nearly $44 million in endorsements and salaries from high-profile companies such as Adidas and Yahoo!.
Here’s how the sextuplet of footballing superstars fared in comparison to one another…
1. David Beckham, LA Galaxy (5th on Forbes’ list)
Estimated income: $43.7 million (£28.6 million) / Age: 35
Beckham is currently overseeing the development of a range of underwear and fragrances that will bear his name, so we can expect his income to swell further over the next couple of years.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid (13th on Forbes’ list)
Estimated income: $35.8 million (£23.4 million) / Age: 25
Ronaldo is currently the world’s most expensive player having transferred from Manchester United to Real for $132 million, but the Portuguese forward did not receive a cut of the fee.
3. Lionel Messi, Barcelona (26th on Forbes’ list)
Estimated income: $27 million (£17.7 million) / Age: 23
Despite his relatively tender years, Barca’s diminutive Argentinian winger already has $multi-million sponsorship deals with Adidas, Gillette, Konami and Pepsi.
4. Kaka, Real Madrid (31st on Forbes’ list)
Estimated income: $25.6 million (£16.7 million) / Age: 28
The Brazilian didn’t enjoy the best of seasons at the Bernabeu last term, but his endorsement deals with Sony and Adidas (amongst many others) will go someway to softening the blow.
5. Ronaldinho, AC Milan (32nd on Forbes’ list)
Estimated income: $25.1 million (£16.4 million) / Age: 30
The buck-toothed show pony is a shadow of the player he once was, but his image still sells – especially in his homeland of Brazil.
6. Thierry Henry, New York Red Bulls (39th on Forbes’ list)
Estimated income: $23.5 million (£15.4 million) / Age: 33
Henry can already count Reebok and Gillette amongst his current cache of sponsors, but his recent move to the MLS will provide vast scope for further additions.
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Please note that Forbes’ calculations are based solely on the individual’s sponsorship revenue, and the income figures displayed do not include club salaries and/or bonuses.