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Footballers (don't) get paid too much

by Finn Bartram 2 years ago in football
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It's often said that footballers are overpaid but, in reality, this isn't true

Photo by Austrian National Library on Unsplash

It's a common refrain: footballers are all overpaid pre-maradona's and they should have their exorbitant salaries corrected to reflect their actual value to society. This claim is simply not true, for a few reasons that I'll explain.

Supply and demand, darling

Firstly, from a boring economics perspective, on the whole professional footballer's salaries reflect their value to their teams. A few will inevitably be overpaid at some point, thanks to some silly decisions made by the people who run football clubs, but generally clubs pay the players what they can afford, at a rate that reflects their contributions on the pitch. These guys (and girls, but we're mainly talking about the guys here) are professional athletes who, as well as being genetically bestowed, have gone through years of trials and training and rode their luck to get to where they are. In short, they don't come around too often, so demand is high. To validate my point, the football-crazy Bank of England wrote a useful article explaining it.

Footballers vs other sportsmen

Why is it only footballers at which this claim is levelled? Let's turn the magnifying glass onto other sports stars. In Forbes's list of the world's highest-paid athletes 2019, NFL footballers, NBA basketball players, boxers, F1 drivers, tennis players, and golfers feature just as prominently as footballers or 'soccer players'. Yet no-one's going at Roger Federer for raking in the centre-court earnings. Why is no-one roasting Roger? I suspect it might have something to do with Football's constant presence and portrayal in the media vis-à-vis other sports, but I could be wrong here.

Giving Back

When it was announced back in 2014 that Wayne Rooney had signed a new contract with Manchester United worth a reported £300k a week, it was questioned in some corners and openly derided in others. “How much? He’s not worth the fluff from betwixt my toes.” But, let's not forget, he's not taking all that back home to the Morrisons Mansion with him. A large portion is going to the tax man. A quick diddle in the old tax calculator (wonder if Wayne's ever done this) and it comes out at... a shade over £7million per annum. This money can be put to a lot of good use building schools and hospitals.

Also, with the majority coming from humble roots, many footballers use their wealth and influence to help out in their communities back home. Using the parlance of a philosopher, Liverpool's star striker Sadio Mane was recently quoted as saying:

“Why would I want 10 Ferraris, 20 diamond watches, or two planes? What will these objects do for me and for the world? I was hungry, and I had to work in the field; I survived hard times, played football barefooted, I did not have an education and many other things, but today with what I win thanks to football, I can help my people."

Well said Sadio, and he's not the only one. Greats such as Ronaldo, Sir Becks and Messi all do their fair share of charity work.

Are you not entertained?

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, they entertain us with their dazzling displays of athleticism on the pitch, and with their charming antics off of it. What else to do whilst stuck indoors on a rainy Sunday afternoon in January, or shirtless in a beer garden in July? Watching football is a social pastime that brings people together. I was in Croatia for the 2018 World Cup when they hit the final and witnessed first hand how much it meant to those people. You see it in towns and cities all over the world on a weekly basis. When Leicester City famously usurped the Premier League in 2016, the whole city turned out to celebrate with Jamie and the boys. Nothing as good has ever happened in Leicester, or ever will again.

What is more, by watching their heroes do it on the big stage, it inspires kids and adults alike to don their replica kits and get outside and kick a ball around. Bottom line: without footballers, the world would be a boring, less cohesive, and fatter place.

An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay

So, all things considered, next time you hear someone lambasting poor footballers for earning too much, you can now explain to them with the use of some robust and objective arguments that, in actual fact, they're not.


About the author

Finn Bartram

Writer, DJ.

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