The Forbes Rich List Once Again Highlights The Inequalities In Sport

The Forbes Rich List Once Again Highlights The Inequalities In Sport

The annual Forbes list of the highest athletes in sport made for some interesting reading when it was released yesterday evening.

The decade long dominance of Tiger Woods and Floyd Mayweather appears to have run its course following Woods’ run of injuries and Mayweather’s retirement and, while both still make the list, their monetary dominance has been assumed by Cristiano Ronaldo (€77.4m) and Lionel Messi (€71.6m) whose rivalry now has yet another dimension to it.

Perhaps what’s most alarming though is the lack of female representation. Just two women, Serena Williams (€25.4m) and Maria Sharapova (€19.2m), appear on the list and, in the case of the latter, it highlights exactly how costly her two year doping ban from tennis will be especially when you consider that sponsors Nike, Porsche and American Express have withdrawn support of her following her positive test.

Williams, who is now the highest paid female athlete in the world for the first time in her career, recently spoke to Glamour Magazine about the inequality of pay in female sports.

These sports have a lot of work to do and I really hope I can be helpful in that journey because I do believe that women deserve the same pay. We work just as hard as men do. And to be paid less just because of my sex – it doesn’t seem fair.

Roger Federer (€59.6m) and Novak Djokovic (€49m) are both included in the top ten, with several other male tennis players scattered across the top 100.


Equal pay in sports is currently a hot topic in the United States, with the US women’s soccer team currently campaigning for the same pay as their male counterparts.

Elsewhere, two Irish athletes are included on the list. Rory McIlroy is currently the fourth highest paid golfer in the world, taking home €37.4m between June 2015 and 2016 while Conor McGregor, the only mixed martial artist on the list, swelled his bank account to the tune of €19.3m.

In McGregor’s case, that number could presumably have been even higher had he been allowed to seek outside sponsorship for his fight attire instead of the UFC-mandated Reebok equipment policy.

More than one-fifth of the top 100 is comprised of American Football players. Cam Newton (€46.7m) of the Carolina Panthers is the highest paid athlete in the NFL but those figures are even more alarming when you consider that, statistically speaking at least, 16 of the 21 players on the list will be broke or worse within two years of leaving the sport.

John Balfe

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