The Union of European Football Association, commonly known as UEFA, controls the wealthiest soccer region in the world. European soccer clubs are among the richest in the world, and their players are paid accordingly. The wages paid to some of the top players are seen by some as excessive, an aspect of European soccer that UEFA has been planning to control.
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The average wage of a professional soccer player varies greatly among top-level UEFA leagues. For example, players in the top leagues of England, Italy or Spain are paid more than those in countries such as Poland, Switzerland or Norway. According to the "Telegraph" website, the English Premier League is the world’s richest soccer division. As of March 2010, the average player salary was approximately £1.4 million a year. These numbers have increased significantly since 2006. A 2006 report by "The Independent" showed the Premier League average to be approximately £0.6 million a year.
First-team players in the UEFA leagues are among the highest-paid athletes in the world. Figures highlighted by the "Telegraph" show the New York Yankees baseball team had the highest average pay structure in the world in 2009. The next three teams in the list were all UEFA teams. Real Madrid paid its players an average of £4.1 million per year, Barcelona £4.00 million and Chelsea £3.5 million.
David Beckham was the highest-paid soccer player in Europe until his move to the United States. In March 2010, the Mail Online reported the findings of a study carried out by the "France Football" magazine. According to the study, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo was the world’s highest-earning player by basic salary alone. Ronaldo was paid about £10.2 million annually by the Spanish club. Lionel Messi of Barcelona earned a basic salary of £9.2 million per year. Messi was the highest-earning soccer player in the world when his sponsorship deals and bonuses were included in his yearly income.
A player’s position often affects his salary. Goalkeepers earn the lowest average and forwards the most. English Premier League salaries, as revealed by the "Independent" in 2006, follow this trend. The average yearly salary was approximately £524,875 for goalkeepers, £642,850 for defenders, £0.7 million for midfielders and £0.7 million for forwards.
In September 2009, UEFA's Executive Committee agreed to put in place a number of initiatives to curb excessive spending on salaries and transfer fees. Clubs within the UEFA soccer region would be faced with a cap on player salaries. According to the UEFA website, the initiative was designed to encourage clubs to compete within their revenues and to promote youth soccer. These new regulations were not implemented immediately. The Reuters Soccer Blog stated these changes would be in full effect for the 2013 season.
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- Telegraph: Premier League Footballers Not the Richest on the Planet - Revealed
- The Independent: £676,000: The Average Salary of a Premiership Footballer in 2006
- Mail Online: David Beckham Toppled by Lionel Messi as Barcelona Star Leads Football Earner Charts on £570,000 a Week!
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- Reuters Soccer Blog: UEFA to Call Time on Loss-making Clubs