The salary for a professional goalie varies wildly depending on the league, the team and the country. Goalkeepers serve an important role on teams, often acting as team captain. Despite this, keepers generally earn less than the forwards and midfield players, who score the majority of the goals and win the major sponsorship contracts with companies like Adidas and Nike.
Salary and location
Professional goalie salaries depend heavily on location. The major European leagues in England (EPL), Spain (La Liga), Italy (Serie A) and Germany (Bundesliga) have the capital to pay the highest salaries in the world. Secondary European leagues like Eredivisie in the Netherlands and the Primeira Liga of Portugal pay lower salaries than the top European leagues though usually more than leagues in the Americas. Major League Soccer (MLS) in the United States and the Primera Division in Mexico pay high wages for the Americas. As of 2014, the highest paid goalkeeper in the world, Real Madrid's Iker Casillas, earns approximately £6.3 million a year. In the English Premier League, the highest earning goalie is Chelsea's Petr Cech, who rakes in £5.2 million a year.
Salary and level
In most major countries, multiple levels of leagues exist. In England, for instance, the English Premier League constitutes the top league, followed by the Championship, Football League 1 and Football League 2. These are all professional leagues, though pay typically diminishes incrementally for each successively lower league. All major European soccer nations have similar structures. The average salary of a player in the EPL is roughly £800,000, while the average salary of a Championship player is around £250,000. League Two players earn approximately £55,000. In 2014, one of England's highest-paid goalkeepers, Manchester City's Joe Hart, earns approximately £4.7 million a year.
Salary and hierarchy
Professional soccer teams retain a number of goalkeepers in case the primary keeper falls victim to injury or underperforms. A keeper's place in the team's hierarchy affects his salary. Secondary and third-pick goalkeepers, who often sit on the substitute's bench for most matches, earn considerably less than the first-pick goalie. For example, Tottenham Hotspur's main goalie, Hugo Lloris, earns £4.5 million a year, while reserve goalie Brad Friedel earns £1.8 million a year.
Some soccer leagues maintain salary caps for teams. This means that teams can spend no more than a predetermined amount on all players. This limits the salary a team can afford to pay its players. This doesn't apply to the English Premier League, although new financial fair play regulations do limit the losses that clubs can incur through paying high transfer fees. However, in the United States, MLS teams maintain a salary cap that limits player earnings.