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How Do Soccer Players Get Paid?

How Do Soccer Players Get Paid?

Soccer is one of the most appreciated sports in the world and also has some of the best-paid athletes. A tremendous player like Lionel Messi earns over $7 million each month which is nearly 600 times the salary of regular employees.

Although soccer talents as outstanding as Messi are in short supply, the basic salary of an average soccer player is still mouthwatering. The demand for gifted soccer players is usually very high because the fate of clubs depends mostly on the quality of players they own.

Successful soccer clubs make money from different income streams such as ticket sales, real estate, merchandise, and broadcasting rights. To attract the best players from other clubs, clubs propose huge wages.

Lower league players get paid less because there is a higher concentration of players generating less revenue. Between 2014 and 2015, the average League 1 player earned below $70,000 compared to $1.7 million earned by average Premier League players.

Soccer players are earning incredibly high wages because clubs are making billions of dollars in annual revenue. Globalization and modern technology have made soccer more popular and profitable, advancements like e-commerce, pay TVs, online games, and social media platforms have become a money-spinner for big clubs.

Like every other job, demand and supply also apply to soccer, the more a soccer player’s skillset and talent are required by a team, the more their wages. In this article, we shall explore how soccer players get paid and other topics concerning their finances.

How do soccer players get paid?

A swift search online will simply display an estimate of how much top soccer players earn per year but we know many of you still can’t tell how soccer players get paid.

The majority of soccer players simply have their wages transferred to their bank account or handed a paycheck. But others get paid through other means.

Some soccer players have multiple sources of income which include contract bonuses, endorsements, playing for their home country, and many more.

a soccer player with a ball and some money

Personal branding plays a crucial role in measuring a soccer player’s earnings, some soccer players even feature in movies and songs.

Let’s take a detailed look at some of the ways soccer players get paid.

1. Club Team Contracts

This is what makes soccer players most of their money. Club team contracts vary with different leagues and soccer clubs all over the world.

Top-rated professional soccer players can earn millions of dollars yearly while lower-tiered professionals earn a few thousand dollars. Players such as Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, and Cristiano Ronaldo are all earning millions of dollars from their club team salary alone.

Top-rated soccer players don’t just earn huge salaries because they play for elite teams, they also earn money by appearing in global tournaments and raking in money for their teams using their massive fanbase.

commitment in a contract

Women’s league top players are also cashing in big cheques, the minimum pay in the National Women’s Soccer League is $20,000. Women’s soccer players at the peak of their soccer careers are constantly switching clubs for lucrative contracts.

Because a salary cap doesn’t apply to soccer, a bidding war goes on each new season between rich clubs for the best available players. In popular sports like NBA and NFL, player’s earnings and wages can be limited.

A soccer player could earn as much as a billion dollars each year from just club team contracts if the club owner deems them worthy of such an exorbitant amount. Clubs must have recuperated their investments in a player before they can be allowed to sign for other clubs overseas.

It is rare for soccer players to accept wage cuts unless they sustain a major injury or become old and approaching the end of their professional career which might warrant them to join lower-level clubs and earn less money.

As players reach the end of their initial contracts, they often renew their contracts for the same clubs especially when they are offered higher wages due to their exceptional status.

Here are some pros and cons of club team contracts.

Pros of Club Team Contracts

  • There are always performance-related bonuses attached to these contracts e.g., number of goals scored per match and goalkeeper’s clean sheet bonuses
  • The salary is automated, it is paid without any delays
  • Larger clubs with huge spending budgets pay very generously even to average players
  • Better salary structures encourage team-play and improve individual player’s performance
  • Club team contracts expose players to a broader audience and open doors to unlimited opportunities
  • A release clause serves as an element of freedom when a soccer player is entering long-term contracts.

Cons of Club Team Contracts

  • Players tired of playing for a team must satisfy the clauses on their contracts before they can be transferred
  • Low spending budgets means lower salaries to players, which can adversely affect a player’s standard of living
  • Lower budgets limit a club’s ability to buy new players thereby causing already owned players to work twice as hard as they should with fewer breaks
  • Team competitive spirit is reduced if contracts are not encouraging

2. Bonuses

Performance bonuses are another grand way soccer players get paid. Bonuses exist in contracts to offer players the chance of earning more money by improving on themselves and playing their best game.

Sometimes the best way big clubs lure exceptional players is by offering them brain popping bonuses especially when they are in high demand by other big clubs. Big monetary incentives on player’s contracts help them decide faster if a club is worth playing for.

Giving bonuses is a very good way of motivating soccer players and it is beneficial to both players and the club; players play their best in every game while the club gains more victories in return.

Bonuses, although good, can also cause players to burn out and sometimes get seriously injured.

Soccer players can get bonuses by scoring a specific number of goals (hat trick), winning a championship, keeping a clean sheet (goalkeepers), making a specific number of appearances for a team, and many others.

Professional awards also come with huge bonuses as well as global recognition. Awards received by a team’s players go a long way in boosting the club’s brand image and increases the player’s market value.

A soccer ball, a champion trophy and some money. These are the goal of many players

It is difficult to name all the actions that can earn players a bonus because bonuses are left to the club owners to decide. Some players can even get bonuses just by being among the first eleven in a soccer match while others can earn bonuses by assisting in scoring a victory-defining goal.

Loyalty bonuses can also be offered to players by clubs in appreciation of their devotion to the progress of the club. This is most common among small teams that understand how easy it is for their star players to switch clubs by accepting more rewarding offers.

Bonuses motivate players to remain loyal to their team and keep suiting up for each game as well as give their best without reservations. With bonuses in team contracts, clubs wouldn’t be compelled to pay extra money to players who haven’t earned it.

Pros of Bonuses in Soccer     

  • Bonuses motivate soccer players to be present at each game and play at their best.
  • It pushes soccer teams to always go for gold at every tournament no matter how insignificant it may be.
  • It is a good way of showing appreciation for hard work, loyalty, and dedication to the sport
  • Bonuses can be used by players to cover living costs and other basic costs
  • It hastens a negotiation process

Cons of Bonuses in Soccer

  • Bonuses can upset a soccer team. It can lead to selfishness where every team member is struggling to score a goal to earn them a bonus rather than playing harmoniously
  • Giving bonuses can cost a club extra money especially when most of the players in a team are playing at their best
  • Bonuses can make players spend lavishly if they are always getting them
  • Players feel less motivated when they play matches without securing bonuses
  • Bonuses can force talented soccer players into clubs where their talents don’t shine as bright as they should

3. Endorsements and Collaborations

Soccer players don’t just earn money from playing soccer alone, many soccer players make money off the pitch as well. Outside soccer, some players use their celebrity status to secure endorsements and business deals that pay them handsomely.

Big companies pay celebrities to advertise products on their social media handles and appear on their TV ads. Endorsements and product advertising can earn soccer players huge sums of money.

Big brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, and Adidas are responsible for sponsoring athletes from different sports—not just soccer. Players like Messi, Ronaldo, Pogba, and Ibrahimovic to name a few, are big names that have benefited and are still benefiting from big endorsements.

Brazilian soccer star Neymar Jr. earns a whopping $30 million from endorsements from 13 sponsors. Soccer players ranked high receive countless endorsement proposals every single year of their career and sometimes they even turn down some.

Neymar and Messi

Having main sponsors who pay millions of dollars sometimes doesn’t stop soccer players from signing endorsement contracts with other smaller brands. In soccer, fashion and accessories brands are the biggest sponsors of the game.

Apart from players, soccer clubs also sign endorsements with brands where each player will get huge endorsement rewards like brand new cars or owning their clothing line in a clothing company.

Pros of Endorsements and Collaborations

  • Sports sponsorships and visibility are mutually exclusive, a player will gain more fans and attention both offline and online
  • Exposes players to a course bigger than just playing soccer
  • Endorsements make players more valuable in the transfer market
  • Allow players to show fans other talents and skills they have in them
  • Creates a stronger bonding between soccer players and their fans
  • Comes with huge financial and commercial benefits
  • Allow players to plan for life after their soccer career
  • Getting paid for doing exciting things

Cons of Endorsements and Collaborations

  • Some endorsements with huge benefits can damage a player’s reputation
  • Big brands can terminate huge contracts for the flimsiest reasons
  • Some endorsements take away a player’s freedom of expression; some brands can even dictate what a player should wear, eat, and drink during the duration of an endorsement contract
  • Although the pay might be huge, players can be exposed to a high level of stress and discomfort just to please a brand
  • Brands can take a player to court for a breach of contract

There are many other ways in which soccer players get paid but we would consider just these three for now.

Why do soccer players get paid so much?

Soccer players earn so much because, besides club contracts, they also rake in money through other means. Also, the more exceptional and instrumental a soccer player is to the success of a team the more clubs will be willing to pay them for their impact.

Players that command a large fan base also get paid a lot because clubs can leverage their large followership to boost their revenue. For example, the announcement of Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United (2021) has 12.5 million likes and immediately Manchester United saw a jump in shirt sales.

Therefore, even though at thirty-six, Ronaldo can be said to be approaching the end of his career, he still earns around £385,000 per week which is highly unlikely for a player in his age in a normal circumstance.

Ronaldo is cheering

When a professional soccer player’s yearly earning is rounded up, it runs into millions of dollars which is a ton of money. Some players earn as high as $100 million when all their annual earning is put together.

There is a huge gap between the salaries of major league soccer players and lower-tier league players. The pay in soccer is different because there are different soccer leagues out there and each league generates funds from soccer fans patronizing it – more soccer fans directly mean more revenue and more pay.


Soccer players earn exorbitant amounts of money which will rather increase than reduce anytime soon. Soccer fans are not concerned with the huge amount of money soccer players are paid as long as they keep winning matches and trophies for their teams.

Soccer will stop paying large sums of money to players when most people find another sport worth idolizing and more thrilling than soccer. For most soccer clubs it is a matter of business. They don’t mind paying huge wages to any player if they know the potential return in terms of sales and performance is high.