Owen: Football wage hysteria is misguided

The striker does not believe that players are overpaid and argued salaries are justifiable as they only earn as much as athletes in other sports

Former England striker Michael Owen has argued that footballers’ wages are deserved due to the interest shown in the sport.

Goal’s Rich List revealed that Cristiano Ronaldo, who has earned a staggering €148 million, is the richest footballer in the world, while Lionel Messi (€146m) and Samuel Eto’o (€85m) are second and third respectively.

Salaries have continued to soar over the last few years and Wayne Rooney’s recently renewed £300,000 weekly deal with Manchester United has seen the issue thrown under the spotlight once again.

While many believe that there should be a cap on wages, Owen believes the money given to footballers can be justified.

“Despite many of these issues being extremely important, I can’t help but think the current hysteria surrounding footballers reported wage packets is over-hyped and unnecessary,” Owen wrote in his blog on Sportlobster.

“If you have a skill, which people are prepared to part with their hard-earned cash in order to watch, those with the skill will always command high salaries.

“Nobody complains if pop stars sell out a stadium and rake in millions from a tour. Nobody complains about the reported weekly salaries, according to Forbes, of sportsmen such as Kobe Bryant (£700k), Roger Federer (£800k), Phil Mickelson (£480k) and Usain Bolt (£290k).

“What is so different to a footballer earning similar amounts for being at the top of their own particular sport?

“I often hear the football fan’s mantra of ‘I’m paying his wages’ when a footballer is having a bad day and yet fans don’t feel the same way at all when watching Tiger Woods or Roger Federer play a poor match.

“Of course, there is an argument for saying all sports stars’ wages are ridiculously high in comparison to people’s salaries in regular jobs…but how is this specifically a footballer’s fault?

“It is all too easy to bang out the same old cliches whenever the talk turns to a footballer’s wages. The fact is we are fortunate to live in a free world, where market forces dictate cost and, as such, I really don’t think footballers’ wages are in any way out of sync with the rest of the sporting world.

“As long as there are children in virtually every country around the world aspiring to be the next Ronaldo, Messi or Rooney and media companies vying for the rights to football at the highest level, I just don’t see things changing.”

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