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Football: The salaries of professional players... and of the stars

While the spotlight is often on the superstars, most professional players have more modest incomes.

Reading Time : 2 minut(s) - | Published on 17-01-2024 16:00 

Regional football: far from the millions

Professional football is not necessarily a world apart. Contrary to the stars, the vast majority of professional footballers earn much more normal salaries. However, players' incomes vary considerably depending on their level of competition, their club, and their qualities.

The French Football Federation (FFF) sets a conventional minimum wage for players, offering an insight into the salary structure at this level of competition. For the 2023-2024 season, the minimum wage for a Regional 1 player was set at 1,747.20 euros gross per month, which is the minimum wage. In National 1, the threshold is set at 1943.50 € gross.

These amounts are only floors and various factors such as the player's experience, his on-field performances, and the club's overall budget can positively influence this remuneration. Not to mention the bargaining power of the player and his agent.

Finally, the base pay can be supplemented by bonuses linked to sports results or other variables such as certain personal targets, as well as by benefits in kind such as a car or a home.

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2160 € gross on average in National 2

However, one should not expect fortunes. According to detailed information from Le Parisien, which was able to consult the sum of salaries from National 2 in June 2023, the average salary of this category amounts to 2,160 euros gross monthly. Some players, particularly the most accomplished and experienced, can earn up to 3,800 euros gross per month, thus demonstrating the existing wage gap even within regional divisions.

Salary gaps are also noticeable between the different regional divisions. For instance, in Regional 1, a key team player can earn between 2,500 and 3,500 euros gross monthly, while a young player in training can receive between 1,000 and 2,000 euros.

Moving down divisions, to Regional 2 and Regional 3, salaries tend to decrease. In Regional 2, experienced players earn between 1,500 and 2,500 euros, and those in training between 500 and 1,500 euros. In Regional 3, these amounts are even more modest, varying between 1,000 and 1,500 euros for seasoned players, and between 300 and 1,000 euros for young talents.

These figures, although estimates, shed light on the reality of earnings in regional football. They not only reflect the passion and commitment of the players at this level of competition but also highlight the financial challenges they may face.

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Far from the norm in local clubs, international stars rank among the highest-paid personalities on the planet. These levels of remuneration owe a lot to players' on-field talent, but also to the numerous advertising contracts they have signed with brands.

According to Forbes magazine, it is Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese prodigy plying his trade at Al Nassr, who tops the 2023 ranking with an annual remuneration of 248 million euros. He is followed by Argentine legend Lionel Messi (Inter Miami), who pockets 128 million euros. An impressive figure, but one that ultimately only... represents half of what Ronaldo earns.

Neymar, the Brazilian icon from Al-Hilal, is third with 106 million euros, just ahead of Kylian Mbappé of Paris Saint-Germain, whose income is estimated at 105 million euros per year. Karim Benzema, another Frenchman playing for Al-Ittihad, rounds out the top five with a salary of 101 million euros.

In the lower half of the top ten, though the figures are striking, they are significantly lower than those of the leaders. Erling Haaland of Manchester City is in sixth place with 52 million euros, followed by Mohamed Salah of Liverpool with 50 million euros. Sadio Mané, also from Al Nassr, earns 48 million euros, while Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City and Harry Kane of Bayern Munich complete the list with respectively 37 and 35 million euros.

These figures not only showcase the fortunes circulating in high-level football, but also the considerable gap between the superstars of the sport and lower-level players. This raises questions about the financial dynamics within professional football and their impact on the sport as a whole.