Athlete Salaries Equal $17.94 Billion Among 333 of the World’s Top Sports Teams

Clayton Kershaw
The Associated Press

The top 333 sports franchises in 17 professional leagues around the world pay out a staggering $17.9 billion in player salaries.

ESPN released its ESPN/SportingIntelligence Global Salary Survey of player salaries and revealed that the NBA pays out the highest average per-player salary. “At $4.6 million,” the survey found, “the NBA ranks just ahead of India’s IPL cricket ($4.3 million) and MLB ($4.2 million)” in player salaries.

The salaries are ranked among the 333 teams and cover 13 different countries and 9,731 players for a combined salary payout of $17.94 billion.

Some of the biggest sports boosters are oil-rich countries in the Middle East. For instance, Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) has a big hand in financing Real Madrid sports, billionaire Sheikh Mansour of the United Arab Emirates owns Manchester City English soccer, and Qatar Sports Investments is a huge part of the financing for Paris Saint-Germain of France’s Ligue 1. Even the new MLS franchise New York City Football Club is flush with Sheikh Mansour’s oil money.

On top of the Middle East oil connections, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich—who also made much of his cash on oil—owns England’s Chelsea soccer club.

Paris Saint-Germain, Ligue 1 soccer tops the list with $9.1 million. Filling out the top five are Real Madrid, La Liga ($8.6M), Manchester City, EPL ($8.6M), Barcelona, La Liga ($8.1M), and the Los Angeles Dodgers ($8M).

While the top ten features mostly soccer leagues, along with the fifth place the L.A. Dodgers the New York Yankees appear at ninth place with an average of $7.3 million in player compensation.

“The top three NBA teams are the Brooklyn Nets ($6.2 million per player), New York Knicks ($5.9 million) and Los Angeles Clippers ($5.3 million),” ESPN reports. “The Los Angeles Dodgers ($8.0 million) lead baseball and the Royal Challengers Bangalore ($4.5 million) head the IPL list.”

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