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What is the highest paying professional soccer league in the world?

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The highest paying professional soccer league in the world isn’t what you might think.  Within the world of professional soccer, there many leagues – and leagues within leagues – and leagues outside of leagues.  It can get very confusing if you’re not accustomed to such a thing.  In the U.S., we have Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL and MLS.  In the United States, only MLS (Major League Soccer) teams and players actually have opportunities to play in other leagues, tournaments and competitions outside of their home league.  In the rest of the world of soccer, this is very common.  4 of the top 10 highest paying sports leagues in the world are soccer leagues/competitions.

Top 10 Richest Professional Sports Leagues

1. UEFA Champions League:  Purse – $77 million

Organized by the Union of European Football Associations, the UEFA Champions League is indeed the highest paying professional soccer league in the world, as well as the highest paying league of any kind. The total grand prize reaching is $77 million! For 2012, the English team Chelsea beat Bayern Munich for the title with the help of striker Didier Drogba (who subsequently “retired” to China to make millions more).

The jackpot depends on many factors, from team qualification to the Champions League (another soccer league that the top clubs from Europe compete in), number of wins during the tournament and the size of their demographic. For this reason, the 2011 champion Barcelona received $33 million less than what Chelsea received this year.

2. UEFA European Football Championship: Purse – $33 million

Yet another soccer league from UEFA takes the second spot. The UEFA European Football Championship is only restricted to European national teams and this only proves how big football is in Europe. This sporting event is held every four years Spain won in 2008 and 2012. This year’s games were held in Poland and the Ukraine.

3. FIFA World Cup: Purse – $31 million

Most soccer enthusiasts refer to this event simply as “the World Cup”, and it’s the #1 sporting event in the world, but it’s not the highest paying league. Still, with the entire world watching, this is where soccer legends are made and turned into immortal stories.

FIFA is the global governing body when it comes to soccer.  It is also held every four years and will commence again in 2014 in Brazil. Spain is also the 2010 FIFA World Cup champions. The World Cup is a widely viewed sporting event with about 715.1 million people watching all over the world.

32 teams vie for a chance to win the World Cup in a host nation. Because of the international pressure of hosting the World Cup, countries bid against each other to win the honor of becoming the host country. Russia will host the 2018 World Cup while Qatar won the 2012 honors.

4. The Super Bowl: $15.5 million

The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL). This is a huge sporting event in the United States featuring its own version of rugged American football. Because of the importance of this event, companies line up with their advertisements and Hollywood movies create Super Bowl trailers in order to reach a very wide audience. Commercial airtime during a Super Bowl broadcast is very expensive with some paying over $3.5 million for a thirty second TV spot. The Super Bowl has an average of 111 million viewers.

The last Super Bowl was a thriller between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. New York quarterback Eli Manning rose to the occasion to steer the Giants to a suspenseful 21-17 victory. For their victory, each of the Giants players received $172,000.

5. The World Series: $14.8 million

The World Series of the Major League Baseball (MLB) is also one of the most enduring sporting events in the history of America since it started airing in 1903. The 2011 World Series was a seven game series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers. The Cardinals won and each of the players received $323,169 for their victory.

The 2011 World Series had millions of viewers all over the world with the lowest at 11.2 million viewers and the peak reaching 25.4 million people during the decisive Game 7.

6. FedEx Cup: $10 million

The FedEx Cup is one of the highest sporting events in golf. It is the grand prize for winning four events in PGA tournament playoffs including the Barclays and the Coca-Cola Tour Championship. The initial crop of golf aspirants begin at 125 players and this is stripped down to about 30 players. The eventual winner of the FedEx Cup will win a hefty paycheck of $10 million.

7. The Dubai World Cup Night: $10 million

The Dubai World Cup Night is the richest sporting event in horse racing held every year at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Supervised by the Emirates Racing Authority, the Dubai World Cup Night features six races of thoroughbred horses.

It is the most lucrative thoroughbred horse-racing event in the world comprised of the Dubai Kahayla Classic, Al Quoz Sprint and the Dubai Gold Cup among others.

8. UEFA Europa League: $9 million

If you have been bombarded with all the lucrative UEFA leagues, well here’s one more. The UEFA Europa League is dubbed as the second most prestigious football tournament in the world after the Champions League. It may confuse you further to discover that Spain has won this league again behind the efforts of Atletico Madrid in 2012.

9. The World Series of Poker: $8.7 million

Not all sporting events require brawn and athleticism to be financially successful. The World Series of Poker is a prestigious event for a game of cards. With all the poker faces and card dealings, this game netted 22-year-old Pius Heinz over $10,000 for the Buy-In, No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em game.

10. ICC Cricket World Cup: $4 million

Even the game of cricket has its own lucrative sporting event in the ICC Cricket World Cup. India won in 2011 while the next World Cup is scheduled for 2015. However, controversy hounded the last ICC Cricket World Cup when its host Allen Stanford was convicted for a Ponzi scheme.

 [info] *Information taken directly from TheRichest.org. [/info]

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About Author

Mike Slatton is a 2nd generation American youth soccer coach since 1984, and the son of one of the nation's first female licensed youth soccer coaches (Anita Slatton, 1979). He's also a professional soccer scout, a player since 1977, and the father of three adult and teenage children who all play or have played the game. "My job as a youth soccer coach is to develop detail oriented problem solvers who can react quickly under pressure. This relates to life - not just soccer."

1 Comment

  1. Rob "The Cat" Lenk on

    Amazing how high the salaries have gotten as of the last decade. It’s too the point that the average fan can’t take in a game with his kids without mortgaging the house. But people are obviously buying tickets and memorabilia, because the soccer player salaries just keep climbing. Major League soccer in America is even paying outrageous wages, as Michael Bradley jsut got a six MILLION dollar contract. That’s a far cry from the 50k base salary everyone starts with.

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