I do go, on the whole, fairly easy on footballers. Whilst managers, chairmen, owners and even fans themselves drive me to distraction on occasion, the players themselves, no matter how bad their behaviour may be, pass me by on the whole. I’m also somewhat loathe to criticise them for being overpaid. This is something that is the fault of the chairmen that pay them and, to a lesser extent, the supporters themselves, who ultimately finance the whole circus. If the players, the vast majority of whom are working class kids with dubious levels of education, can make enough money retire in the space of a “career” that might not even last ten years, then all power to their elbows.
However, there comes a point at which things go a little beyond the pale. At the hyper-exalted climes of the very top of European football, the players do earn amounts of money that are obscene. The irony of seeing poor old Jermaine Defoe complaining about his eighteen months of “hell” at Tottenham Hotspur in the knowledge that he was almost certainly earning £40,000 per week while this was happening was not lost on me as I flicked through this morning’s paper. Such thoughts can never be far from your mind when you look at tables like this, which claims* to have the low-down on the top fifty earning footballers in Europe. Some of the figures are hardly surprising – I didn’t exactly faint when I saw that Kaka and Ronaldinho were at the very top of the list, and the preponderance of Premier League and Serie A entrants is hardly surprising, given the profligacy of club owners when it comes to the Next Big Thing – but some of the entrants are notable.
Take, for example, Darren Bent, for example. How very fortunate is he to be on almost £100,000 per week for warming the bench at White Hart Lane every week? On the other hand, I had no idea that the 73 year-old was even still playing for Bayern Munich, let alone raking in nearly £80,000 per week for the privilege. Some teams are notable for their absence from the list. Arsenal, amazingly, don’t feature anywhere on the list at all. Juventus, in third place in Serie A, only appear on it twice. If you’ve been wondering why no teams from the Bundesliga manage to compete in the later stage of the European Cup any more, it could be something to do with the fact that only one of its clubs, Bayern Munich, sees fit to pay any of its players more than £65,000 per week. Most startling of all, however, is number fifteen on the list. Sol Campbell is still on over £100,000 a week, and it’s Portsmouth that are paying it. Indeed, I have managed to come up with a little game this evening involving this fact. All you have to do is come up with a sentence about this face which is absolutely true, but of which no part makes any sense. Here’s a couple to get you on your way:
- Portsmouth Football Club’s Sol Campbell is the fifteenth best paid footballer in the world in the world, earning £105,188 per week.
- Portsmouth Football Club’s Sol Campbell earns £25,437 per week than Samuel Eto’o of Barcelona does.
But I’m sure that you can do better than me.
*Note the word “claims” – I have no idea how true these figures are (and they almost certainly don’t take into account the myriad of win bonuses, under the counter payments and sponsorship payments that bump up their wages, amongst other things), but for the purposes of pointing and laughing, they’ll do.