Polls / June 24, 2014

Do you think professional footballers are paid too much?

The overwhelming majority of respondents to an eZonomics online poll think professional footballers are paid too much.

More van Persie magic?
The FIFA World Cup 2014 saw hopes high in the Netherlands that Robin van Persie could build on his impressive success on the field, and fans from Brazil and other nations also backing their squads with enthusiasm. Big names in football create hype and can make a difference come game time. ING’s Cup-o-nomics 2014 study added the “values” of all players in the 32 participating teams and found Spain, Germany and Brazil had the highest team totals and Argentina’s Lionel Messi topped individual players at a EUR130 million “market value”.

Huge slice of reward goes to a few top performers
Professional footballer salaries are too high, according to a large share of respondents to this poll. But in an Ask Ian post, ING senior economist Ian Bright details how only the very best players – perhaps the 0.1% of professionals – are paid the extremely high salaries. Tournament Theory effectively arrives at a ranking – in which a player with marginally better skill can earn a much greater prize than the player ranked next. Likewise, Soccernomics author Simon Kuper wrote in a 2012 piece for eZonomics about the EUR400,000 difference between the average and the median wage for a player in Italy’s Serie A – demonstrating how “a huge slice of the rewards goes to just a few top performers”.

No different to the rest of us
Even sports people with very high wages cannot forget about the financial basics of balancing income and spending. There are some well-known examples of the “rich and famous” running into financial trouble later in life, notably footballers Paul Gascoigne and George Best. An often cited-figure from a 2009 Sports Illustrated article is that "by the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce". In the need to keep a healthy personal budget, even the best sportspeople are not different to the rest of us.

Personal financeIncomeSport

eZonomics team
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