We often see the headlines of the millionaire footballers. Gareth Bale’s pay is the equivalent to around £350,000 a week after tax, more than the estimated £288,000 Real pay Cristiano Ronaldo. That is not to mention all the sponsorship and promotion deals they make. But what is it like for the rest of the players who don’t make it to the top.
A large number of football players around the world live a precarious existence in which contracts are not respected and their control over their career path is minimal, according to the global players’ union, Fifpro. In a survey of 14,000 footballers working in 54 countries across Europe, the Americas and Africa the median net monthly income was between $1,000 (£804) and $2,000 a month. And 41% of players had experienced delayed salary payments over the last two seasons. The average wage in Britain is widely reported to be around £27,000, the report's authors say it "debunks the myth that players enjoy a highly-privileged lifestyle".
“This is about the reality of our football industry, which is completely different from what most fans are thinking,” said Theo van Seggelen, the secretary general of Fifpro. “It shows that not every football player has three different cars in three different colours. We really see the report as a possibility for urgent change, because we cannot accept this situation any longer. It is confirmation of what we already know, but the problems are also even worse than I had thought. I hope clubs realise they have to feel really ashamed.” He continued, "The vast majority earn modest wages, have short careers, very little security and face an uncertain future when their career comes to an end."
Chief among Fifpro’s concerns is the issue of late payment. Fifa rules allow clubs to pay players up to 90 days after the due date; beyond this point a player is permitted to unilaterally breach his contract although the constraints of the transfer window often make this impractical.
Democratic Republic of Congo was the worst country for both violence and threats of violence from supporters on match days. Scotland was surprisingly in second place in the latter category.