Cristiano Ronaldo scores against Hungary in Euro 2020

For much of the world, there is no human sports figure who is more mystical than a soccer player. They are so revered and idolized that many people perceive them to be more than human, that is, until reading in the paper that Lionel Messi earns $104 million a year. Then even the most avid fan begins to ask questions, such as: How much is that per game? Does he only get paid when he plays? How could he possibly be worth that much to a team? Does paying someone like Messi that much cut down on the amount of money a team can play the rest of its players? After all, even the greatest player in the world has to have 10 teammates. How does he get paid? Perhaps there are some helpful answers to these questions.


How Do Soccer Players Get Paid in This Digital Age?

Generally, for reasons of privacy and security, professional soccer teams do not dispense information about the manner in which they pay their players. There is some disagreement about how often lower echelon footballers get their money, dating back to the old days when players got paid after each weekly game. The consensus is that, however much they might make, most professional players get paid once a month. Roster players in their prime get paid whether they play or not. As for the mechanics of how it happens, for the sake of convenience, certainty and safety, players receive a direct deposit. For the sake of recordkeeping, both for the team and for the athlete, the bookkeeping people use a service like check stub maker to create a pay stub as well.


What Are the Different Sources From Which Soccer Players Are Paid?

Those who are familiar with the various clauses of a professional athlete’s contract can guess that even the most fabulously opulent contract has some stipulations in it. This is true. A contract spells out how much the club will pay under certain conditions with certain results. Here are some of the different ways a player might be paid:

  • Team Salary. For most professional players, most of their earnings come from the team.
  • Star Power. That is to say endorsing products, making appearances, filming advertisements and so on. For the bigger names, this is hugely lucrative.
  • Playing for their national team. Patriotism does not pay as well as the better teams, but it is good money, especially if the team does well.
  • Achievement bonuses. Scoring goals, winning games and championships are all possible financial incentives for players.


How Many Stars Make Really Big Money?

That question is almost always followed by the—sometimes unspoken—query, “Are they really worth it?” Indeed, they are worth the money and not just because they win championships. The name soccer players bring people to the stadiums and attract media contracts. In that sense, the results of their play in terms of wins and losses are secondary, even if that is what attracts the fans in the first place. Considering only club salaries, the thinking is that the top 10 players in the world make $20 million a year or more. Messi leads the way with about $54 million in salary. American professional soccer players are pretty low on the financial scale as they average less than $100,000 a year with many making about $50,000.


What About Women?

True, to this point only the male soccer professionals have been discussed. This has been a major point of contention for the American nation women’s team, which has dominated women’s soccer around the world for several years. The team makes substantially less and receives second-class accommodations in comparison to the American men’s national team, which pales in comparison to the accomplishments of the women. The American women players average about $40,000 a year, with some making only $20,000.

Interestingly, when the German men won the 2014 FIFA championship, their prize money was 17 times greater than the prize money received by the American women who won that same year.