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The World’s Highest-Paid Athletes in 2020

Top-class sport continues to be a lucrative business, despite the earnings of the world’s top 100 athletes dropping in the latest Forbes rankings.

That elite group of superstars raked in a combined $3.6 billion over the past 12 months, a year-on-year decrease of around nine percent.

Disruption to sport on a global basis had an impact on the figures, although experts believe that the drop will be nothing more than a short-term blip.

Football players fill three of the top four places on the list, but there is a new name at number one. Read on as we look who has been raking in the cash over the past year.

Roger Federer – Tennis – $106.3m

The Swiss star moves to the top of the standings for the first time, with his $106.3 million earnings taking him past Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Endorsements make up 94 percent of Federer’s haul, with his 10-year, $300 million deal, with Japanese apparel brand Uniqlo his most lucrative link-up.

Federer has amassed $130m in prize money during his career, making him a favourite with punters who use 888sport live betting to wager on tennis.

He is unlikely to retain top spot for too long, with Messi expected to sign a new contract that will keep him at Barcelona for the rest of his career.

Cristiano Ronaldo – Football – $105m

Ronaldo took a pay cut when he left Real Madrid to join Juventus on a four-year contract in 2018, although his annual $64 million salary would still scare off most owners in the Premier League.

His popularity was showcased perfectly in the 24 hours after his signing was announced, with Juve selling more than half-a-million Ronaldo jerseys.

A lifetime contract with Nike worth in excess of $1bn should keep his bank manager happy, while plans to add to his portfolio of hotels show he has an eye on the future.

With more than 200 million followers on Instagram it appears that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s global appeal is set for life.

Lionel Messi – Football – $104m

Debates about whether Ronaldo or Messi is the greatest footballer of all-time continue to rage, but what isn’t in doubt is the pair’s earning potential.

His current Barca contract is due to end in 2021, but negotiations are already underway regarding a new bumper long-term deal.

A lifelong deal with Adidas will keep the cash tills ringing, while moves into clothing lines and retail should also prove to be successful.

Given that he still only 32 years of age, it would be no surprise to see Messi back on top of the Forbes rich list in 2021.

Neymar – Football – $95.5m

Neymar is currently contracted to French club Paris Saint-Germain until June 2022 on a five-year deal worth $350m in salary.

He was signed by Nike’s Jordan brand as its first football ambassador in 2016 and had a movie about his life released earlier this year.

The 28-year-old has numerous big brand sponsors including Electronic Arts, Gillette, Mastercard and Red Bull, although his earning potential is arguably being limited by playing in France.

A return to Spain with either Barca or Real Madrid would boost his marketability and could even see him overtake Ronaldo and Messi in the financial stakes.

The Final Word

Although more NBA players made the top 100 than any other sport, the biggest proportion of their income tends to come from endorsements rather than salaries.

Top-class footballers continue to have the edge when it comes to wages and that factor should be enough to keep the game’s biggest stars towards the top of the list for the next few years.