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Arab power made Cristiano Ronaldo the highest paid athlete of 2023

Arab power made Cristiano Ronaldo the highest paid athlete of 2023

This week the eyes of sport are on Las Vegas as the world’s richest sports league takes center stage with the Super Bowl. lhe NFL is a financial giant by almost any metric, including sponsorship records.

But when it comes to athlete earnings, NFL players can’t match their global soccer counterparts. Soccer stars occupy four of the top six spots among the highest-paid athletes on the planet.

In contrast, the NFL only has two in the top 25 (Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson).

According to a study carried out by the Sportico site, the Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo leads the ranking with US$275 million, thanks to the richest sports contract in the field and a sponsorship portfolio worthy of a person with 620 million followers on Instagram.

While Lionel Messi is third with $130 million, behind the Spanish golfer Jon Rahm, with US$203 million. Fourth is the basketball player LeBron James (US$125.7) and fifth is PSG’s Frenchman Kylian Mbappé (US$125 million), according to estimated earnings for 2023 until December 31.

Sportico contacted more than 40 figures familiar with athletes’ contracts on and off the field, including those in teams, leagues, sports agencies, promotion firms and consultancies to determine the 100 highest-paid in 2023 who were active at some point. during the year. It includes athletes from eight sports and 25 countries, who earned approximately $5.4 billion last year. The total includes $4.2 billion in salaries and awards, as well as $1.2 billion from sponsorships, memorabilia and advertising appearances.

Two main themes emerge: the influence of Saudi Arabia’s sports investment and the absence of women in the top 100.

Arab power

The money of Saudi Arabia flows through the top 100, and the country sees sports as a way to diversify its economy through the Saudi Vision 2030 plan unveiled in 2016 by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Public Investment Fund (PIF) is more than US$700 billion.

Novak Djokovic ($44.9 million, No. 46) and Carlos Alcaraz ($42.2 million, No. 56) played a Saudi exhibition in December that earned both players seven-figure fees per appearance. Now they will return in October for another lucrative exhibition. Boxer Tyson Fury ($40 million, No. 64) earned an estimated $32 million purse for his October victory over Francis Ngannou in Saudi Arabia and is set to receive a much bigger payday there for a title fight. in May against Oleksandr Usyk.

But it is in football and golf where the Saudis and the PIF have invested the most. Ronaldo was the first big name to move to the Saudi Pro League when he joined Al-Nassr in January 2023 under a deal paying approximately $215 million a year.

Neymar ($121 million) is ranked No. 6, Karim Benzema ($78 million) is 12th and Sadio Mané ($38 million) is ranked 70th.

The earnings indicated for all of these players are based on a combination of their salaries from the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons.

PIF-funded LIV Golf signed its first group of players in 2022, including Brooks Koepka ($46.7 million, No. 39), Cameron Smith ($43.3 million, No. 51) and Dustin Johnson ( $35.7 million, No. 86), who received signing bonuses of at least $100 million.

Most of those payments were distributed in 2022, but some parts were paid in 2023. The bonuses acted as an incentive and helped offset the loss of sponsorship revenue after the move.

Jon Rahm changed sides in the Cold War of golf when leaving PGA and go to LIV Golf after a great year in the field that generated US$53 million in prizes, sponsorships and bonuses. Reports put his signing bonus at between $300 million and $600 million, but several people familiar with LIV’s contracts pegged the deal at a lower number and estimated half was paid up front. Rahm’s agency, Sportfive, had no comment on the bonus. The LIV prize money has also been a windfall for Talor Gooch ($40.2 million, No. 61), who finished atop the tour’s 2023 money list.

The bank accounts of the remaining PGA Tour players benefited from the tour’s new “elevated” events and a 33% increase through 2023. Rory McIlroy ($77.4 million), ranked No. 13), Scottie Scheffler and Viktor Hovland (both $52.3 million) are tied for No. 27, earning more than $30 million each in prize money and tour bonuses for the year, in addition to their lucrative marketing deals.

Men only

This is Sportico’s third annual ranking of the world’s highest-paid athletes, but the first time only men make the cut. The pillars are missing from the list Serena Williams, who retired in 2022, and Naomi Osaka, who sat out the 2023 tennis season to give birth to her daughter Shai.

For the previous 15 years, tennis stars Maria Sharapova and Li Na were among the highest-paid athletes in the world.

Source: Ambito

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