Ten years ago FORBES wrote, “While not in the same earnings league as Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods, top-paid soccer players are getting within touching distance of the better-paid U.S. pro sports stars”, APA reports quoting Forbes
Then, Barcelona star Ronaldinho made $29.5 million in earnings to slightly edge out Real Madrid and global icon David Beckham ($29.1 million) to top our list of the world's highest paid soccer players.
In the decade since, escalating payouts from domestic and international television agreements, kit deals, sponsors, Champions League, and an influx of wealthy ownership groups have resulted in surging soccer wages around the world.
Most importantly, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi burst onto the scene, and have dominated the beautiful game – combined they have won 9 of the last 10 coveted global player of the year awards – and related story lines ever since.
Now, just like their performance on the pitch, their paychecks are in a class all their own.
For the fourth straight year, Real Madrid's Ronaldo is the world’s highest-paid soccer player. The $93 million he banked in the last year also bests the earnings of every active professional athlete worldwide.
Of that, the reigning FIFA Player of the Year made $58 million from salary and bonus (before taxes) in the past year as he led his club in goal scoring on the way to a Spanish league title and back to the UEFA Championship final . For perspective, his playing wages alone would rank him No. 3 on our list of soccer’s highest-paid. In comparison, LeBron James, the highest paid NBA player and oft-compared modern day Michael Jordan, made $31 million playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season. (Combined with his endorsements, he took home $86 million.)