Why the bad feeling for footballers on the rich list?

Yesterday Goal.com published their annual rich list - and the majority of the players on it, says the site's Managing Editor, do a huge amount of good for charity

Share
Related Topics

The ludicrously flash sports cars, the gaudy mock tudor houses, the diamond-encrusted watches and, of course, the designer-clad WAGs - the trappings and trinkets that accompany a footballer’s career are as synonymous with their lives as their exploits on the pitch. 


In a country obsessed with "the beautiful game" we have a love-hate relationship with its protagonists – particularly when it comes to what they do with the extraordinary wealth that comes with the job. 


We praise and deride players in equal measure, paying through the nose to watch them at stadiums or via a premium TV sports package, yet we also view them as out of touch, aloof and reckless with their cash, splurging on bling instead of investing wisely and helping others.


This week, Goal published the first global rich list of footballers measuring their net worth, taking into account their salaries, endorsements, business interests and assets. 
The figures are mind-boggling. Topping the £1.7 billion list - which features 50 players -  is David Beckham who is worth a staggering £175m, closely followed by Lionel Messi ( £115.5m) and Cristiano Ronaldo (£112m). 


Our readers all over the world have responded fantastically to it, rejoicing in the high placing of their favourite player or marvelling at the surprising business acumen unexpectedly demonstrated by certain stars. 
Yet in Britain the response seems to be different.  
Cynicism prevails with readers commenting negatively. “Who gives a damn – we’ll never see a penny” says David from Reading, while Amy from Guildford states "What a bunch of overpaid primadonnas". 
We respond in this way because footballers have an image problem in Britain and are in as much need of a PR makeover as the Findus Lasagne. 


The relationship between footballers, the clubs that own them and the media is one of distrust and suspicion. Clubs worry excessively that their players will get ‘stitched up’ by overzealous sports editors so they train their employees to give ultra-safe stock responses to journalists’ questions - journalists who in turn are left to scramble for stories amidst a sea of bland quotes. 
With no interesting quotes coming out of the mixed zones and press conferences, reporters are left to look at the personal and private lives of footballers in order to make headlines. Paparazzi photographers follow footballers everywhere, players shun journalists unless they are obliged to speak and this leads to more distrust. It is a vicious circle that serves only the paranoid clubs.


Meanwhile, the majority of footballers are putting their time and money to good use setting up charities and foundations to transform the lives of people less fortunate than them. 
Rio Ferdinand, who is placed at number 10 on the Goal Rich List thanks partly to his successful business ventures, which include an online magazine, clothing line, record label and restaurant, says: “Footballers are in a privileged position - it's imperative we give back. We probably don't get as good a press as we should - but 99 per cent of footballers do stuff for their charities.”

Overlooked

In 2009 the 34-year-old defender launched the Rio Ferdinand Foundation to help train young people from socially-disadvantaged backgrounds. 
Throughout the football world acts of philanthropy continue to inspire – yet go largely overlooked. 
David Beckham made the headlines by unexpectedly announcing that he was giving his entire salary from Paris St. Germain to a children’s charity in France but other footballers have been making similarly notable gestures for years. The former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba had a hospital built in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire by donating the £3m fee he received from an endorsement deal with Pepsi. Ex-Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt has a foundation that helps handicapped athletes - a benefactor recently came in the form of his Dutch teammate Robin van Persie, who donated the £30,000 cheque he received for being the Premier League's top scorer last season. Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo handed over £100,000 to fund a cancer centre in his native Madeira after his mother was treated for the illness there. The list goes on.


In this testing economic climate few could argue that the world’s top footballers deserve what they earn in relation to how much we pay our nurses, paramedics or members of the armed forces. But when you consider just how much money is being poured into the game from global blue-chip sponsors and via the ever-growing TV rights deals, it seems only right that the players get their share of the spoils.

And when you know that Lionel Messi is putting some of that £250,000 a week towards building a desperately-needed education centre in an impoverished district in Anatuya, northern Argentina it makes the whole concept a lot more palatable. 


Yes they may have a questionable taste in watches, cars and homes – but footballers are the self-made millionaires of sport. They deserve to be lauded for their success and all the rewards that come with it. 



Amar Singh is Managing Editor of Goal.com

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron has reiterated his pre-election promise to radically improve the NHS  

How can we save the NHS? Rediscover the stiff upper lip

Jeremy Laurance
 

Thanks to Harriet Harman, Labour is holding its own against the Tory legislative assault

Isabel Hardman
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor