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Meet the billionaire who convinced Messi to snub $400m offer in Saudi Arabia



Billionaire Jorge Mas persuaded the world’s biggest soccer star to join a bottom-of-the-barrel team that’s languishing in last place in its league.

Now he needs to make it pay off.

With Lionel Messi and Apple Inc. on his side, the 60-year-old construction executive is seeking to upend the business of US soccer and make it a lot more profitable. The linchpin of his strategy was signing Messi to a contract that jettisoned a traditional cash-for-services agreement in favour of revenue sharing accords and an equity stake in the team — a dealmaking strategy closer to Wall Street’s playbook.

Mas’s vision is that the international superstar will lure millions of new subscribers to the Apple TV+ streaming service and attract top players to Major League Soccer. Messi will get a share of the windfall from any increase in international accounts for Apple TV+, while Mas’s Inter Miami soccer club is set to earn millions from increased ticket and merchandise sales. The rest of the league will see a knock-on effect from the hype around Messi, Mas’s theory goes.

“I have very high aspirations for Inter Miami, for MLS and for the sport,” Mas said in an interview Monday, a day after thousands of fans stood in the rain to see Messi don the Florida club’s uniform for the first time. “I’m all in.”

Of course it’s a risky proposition, with almost everything riding on a player who has had a tremendous career but is also getting old by his profession’s standards. The 36-year-old has seven Ballon d’Or titles, holds the record for most goals scored in a calendar year — 91 times in 2012 — and led Argentina to World Cup success in Qatar in 2022.

He’s coming to Miami after spending two years at Paris Saint-Germain, where in recent weeks he was on the receiving end of fans’ taunts over his performance.

Messi follows a tradition of ageing soccer champions that moved to the US, with mixed results. Brazilian legend Pele came out of retirement at 34 and spent three seasons with the New York Cosmos in the 1970s, while David Beckham left Real Madrid in 2007 to join the LA Galaxy. There were also Thierry Henry, Wayne Rooney and Didier Drogba. And still, US soccer’s promised popularity boom failed to materialise.

But Mas is a patient man. Flanked by Messi’s jerseys and Henry Kissinger’s books at an office in upscale Coral Gables, Florida, Mas says it took more than three years to bring Messi to Miami.

Part of the pitch included selling Messi on life in Florida — Mas touted the opportunity of coming to a “country that’s hungry for soccer, where he could literally change the sport,” and closer proximity to his family in Argentina. But there were also big financial incentives.

Messi’s contract with Inter Miami runs through 2025, with a base salary of $20 million per year that could reach $60 million with bonuses. Upon retirement, Messi will receive a minority stake in the team.

He also has a deal with Adidas AG and a unique arrangement with Apple TV+ that will benefit him if the streaming service attracts international subscribers. Mas estimates Messi could bring in 2 million overseas accounts over 18 months. “There is no other player in this country that can have the impact globally that Leo Messi can have.”

Adidas declined to comment, saying it never discusses details of its contracts. Apple didn’t reply to a message seeking comment.

While there’s no final estimate on what Messi’s Miami package will ultimately be worth, it was enough to entice him from a much more straightforward offer from Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal. That deal would have earned him around $400 million annually, according to news reports.

The Apple TV+ service is using sports to attract subscribers, inking a $2.5 billion 10-year deal with Major League Soccer to show games on its platform. One of its most popular TV series, Ted Lasso, follows a fictional Premier League team headed by an American who had never coached soccer before.

In a way, it mirrors how Mas became a soccer tycoon by chance. Mas is the son of a Cuban immigrant, Jorge Mas Canosa, who became a leader in a movement to overthrow Fidel Castro. The family’s fortune comes from MasTec Inc., a $9.1 billion company that builds pipelines, fibre-optic networks and wind-farms across the US. Mas is the chairman and his brother the chief executive officer.

After a failed attempt to purchase the Miami Marlins several years ago, Mas bought out Beckham’s partners at Inter Miami, where his family now owns 80% of the team. Mas sees Messi changing the team’s fortunes, estimating its value could reach $1.5 billion within a year, compared to an estimate from Sportico of $585 million last year.

Mas plans to bring in a new investment partner and jersey sponsor, and has hired former Barcelona and Argentina coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino and midfielder Sergio Busquets. Inter Miami’s strategy is to mix late-career stars with young upstarts, he said.

Construction will soon begin on Inter Miami’s new Freedom Park stadium, which will seat as many as 25,000 fans. The privately-funded project has seen costs increase almost 40% from its original $1 billion, Mas said. It is slated to be completed in 2025, the last year of Messi’s contract, which has Mas holding out hope his star player will hang around for longer.

On Monday morning, Mas saw Messi doing a light practice for the first time, at Inter Miami’s current DRV PNK Stadium (pronounced “Drive Pink”) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “It was unbelievable,” he said.

For now, Messi will be living in the suburb, as he wanted to be “no further than 10 minutes away from the training centre,” Mas said. Messi fans have already began chasing him around Miami, even shadowing his supermarket strolls.

Mas said his biggest worry is that Messi wouldn’t be able to find schools for his three kids. After the pandemic made Miami a magnet for wealthy newcomers, securing a spot in one of the most prestigious private schools became next to impossible. Luckily, the Mas family had a long history of favours to call in and ended up finding them a spot.

“I wanted to make sure his landing here was as smooth, seamless as possible,” Mas said. “And I think so far, so good.”

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Barcelona’s salary limit drops massively from €648m to €270m




Barcelona’s new salary limit for this season has been set at €270 million, a huge drop from the €648m limit set in February.

La Liga have told informed all clubs of their salary levels for the next five months, when they will be reviewed again following the close of the January transfer window.

Barca’s new limit is €270m, the third highest in La Liga, behind Real Madrid and Atletico.

Los Blancos lead the way on €727m, while Atletico Madrid’s salary cap has been set at €296m.

Barca have been busy in the summer in a bid to reduce their wage bill. There were a host of outgoings with Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Ousmane Dembele among those players to be shifted off the wage bill.

Incoming players have arrived on free transfers, or for small fees, and have had to take significant wage cuts. Marc-Andre ter Stegen has also taken a downward contract renewal in a bid to help his club during their financial difficulties.

It’s worth noting that Barcelona are still thought to be way over the limit with a current wage bill of around €404m, meaning there’s still a lot of work needed to do on the financial front.

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Meet 10 highest paid players in the Premier League




The Premier League is one of the richest leagues in the world and a lot of the star players are on incredibly lucrative contracts.

The likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City are all willing to offer huge pay packets to help convince players to join their clubs.

Using data from Capology, a look at the 10 Premier League players with the highest weekly wage.

Note: All figures mentioned are before tax and do not include the array of bonuses that are included in the fine print of every contract.

  1. Kai Havertz – £280,000
    Havertz spent three years at Chelsea before moving across London and joining Arsenal in a £65millon deal in the summer of 2023.

Alongside the transfer fee, the Gunners also shelled out a significant pay packet as they are giving him a reported £280,000-per-week.

The Germany international is the highest-paid player at the Emirates, earning £15,000-a-week more than teammate Gabriel Jesus.

He has faced some criticism for a slow start to life in north London but still has plenty of time to prove his doubters wrong.

9= Jack Grealish – £300,000
Grealish left boyhood club Aston Villa and completed a £100million move to Manchester City in the summer of 2021.

The England international then got a significant wage increase, going from £125,000-per-week at Villa Park to £300,000-per-week at the Etihad.

He had an underwhelming debut season at City but rediscovered his best form in 2022/23, helping Pep Guardiola’s side win the Premier League, the FA Cup and the Champions League.

Alongside his huge wages, the 28-year-old earns £10million a year from Puma and also has a lucrative endorsement contract with fashion house Gucci.

9= Marcus Rashford – £300,00
A Manchester United academy graduate, Rashford earned just £500-a-week when he broke into the first team in February 2016.

The 25-year-old has since developed into one of the best players in the Premier League and his wages have subsequently skyrocketed.

He put pen to paper on a new five-year contract ahead of the 2023/24 season and is now pocketing around £300,000-per-week.

According to The Athletic, Rashford rejected more lucrative proposals from England and abroad to remain at his boyhood club.

9= Bernardo Silva – £300,000
Since arriving from Monaco in the summer of 2017, Silva has helped Manchester City win 14 trophies, including five Premier League titles and the Champions League.

He was heavily linked with Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain in 2023 and was also offered a £500,000-a-week contract by Saudi Pro League side Al Hilal.

But the Portugal international rejected that lucrative offer and signed a contract extension with City until the summer of 2026.

The new deal, which reportedly includes a release clause, rewarded Silva for his impressive performances and doubled his £150,000-a-week salary.

  1. Raheem Sterling – £325,000
    After spending seven seasons at Manchester City, Sterling opted for a new challenge and joined Chelsea in a £47.5million deal in 2022.

The winger signed a five-year deal which is worth £325,000-per-week, making him the highest-paid player at Stamford Bridge.

He struggled to justify that huge pay packet during a turbulent debut season, registering just nine goals and four assists across 38 appearances in all competitions.

While a lot of Chelsea players got a pay cut for missing out on the Champions League, Sterling’s wages have reportedly stayed the same.

  1. Raphael Varane – £340,000
    Varane’s move to Manchester United in the summer of 2021 saw his wage packet double after he was reportedly paid £170,000-per-week at Real Madrid.

The 30-year-old arrived at Old Trafford with some serious pedigree, having won three La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues and the World Cup.

He’s widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the Premier League and has forged a promising centre-back partnership with Lisandro Martinez.

But the former France international has struggled to stay fit for prolonged periods and has already missed 35 United matches through injury.

4= Mohamed Salah – £350,000
After months upon months of speculation about a potential Liverpool exit, Salah committed his future to the Reds in 2022 by putting pen to paper on a new three-year contract.

The deal saw his wages go from £200,000-per-week to £350,000-per-week, making him the highest-paid player in the club’s illustrious history.

According to The Athletic, various bonuses written into the contract could see that rise closer to £400,000-per-week.

That still pales in comparison to the £2.45million-a-week wage that Al-Hilal are reportedly willing to offer the Egypt international.

4= Casemiro – £350,000
Casemiro enjoyed a trophy-laden career at Real Madrid, winning five La Liga titles, a Copa del Rey and five Champions Leagues.

The midfielder subsequently raised eyebrows in 2022 when he decided to leave Real and join a Manchester United side that had failed to qualify for the Champions League.

His reported wages of £350,000-a-week led to speculation that he only signed for a massive payday, but the Brazil international insisted that the money was not part of his thinking in accepting the switch.

“Those who think that don’t know me,” he said. “I’m not like that. If it was for money, then I could have left four or five years ago. The club always acted well with me. It was my decision. It was simply the feeling that my cycle here had come to an end. This was clear to me.”

He silenced his critics and had a brilliant debut season at Old Trafford, helping United win the EFL Cup and finish third in the Premier League.

But the 31-year-old has had a difficult start to the 2023/24 season and his £350,000-a-week contract doesn’t expire until 2026.

  1. Erling Haaland – £375,000
    Manchester City won the race for Haaland’s signature in 2022 after triggering the £51.2million release clause in his Borussia Dortmund contract.

Having signed Haaland for around a third of his market value, City agreed to make him one of their highest earners and are paying the 23-year-old a base salary of £375,000-per-week.

The striker is worth every penny as he scored 52 goals in 53 appearances in all competitions during a record-breaking debut season.

According to reports, Haaland’s contract also includes a number of relatively straightforward bonuses which could take his wage up to £865,000-per-week.

  1. Kevin De Bruyne – £400,000
    After Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United contract was terminated by mutual consent in November 2022, De Bruyne took his place as the Premier League’s highest earner.

The Manchester City midfielder last signed a contract extension in April 2021, which took his pay up to the £400,000-per-week mark.

He justified that wage increase by winning the Premier League Player of the Season award in 2021/22 before playing an integral role in City’s treble-winning campaign.

Culled from

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NFF Budgets N14.4 Billion For 2024




The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) says it will spend the sum of N14,494,469,293.00 (Fourteen Billion, Four Hundred and Ninety-Four Million, Four Hundred and Sixty-Nine Thousand and Two Hundred and Ninety-Three Naira) in 2024.

This was part of the resolution passed by the Congress of the NFF which held its 79th Annual General Assembly on Sunday, 10th September 2023 at Monty Suites Hotel, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State

Sports Marketing International reports that the Congress approved the NFF’s 2024 Budget proposal of the sum of N14,494,469,293.00 even as it considered and approved the NFF Financial Statements for the Year Ended 2022 among many other agenda that were looked into during the congress.

While passing a vote of confidence on the Executive Committee of the NFF led by Ibrahim Musa Gusau, the congress approved the change of name of the Nigeria Professional Football League to the Nigeria Premier Football League and pledged full support to the Super Eagles in its quest to qualify for the FIFA World Cup USA/Mexico/Canada 2026.

The football body, after appraising the efforts, commitment and passion of the Akwa Ibom State government to the development and real growth of Nigeria Football through its support and encouragement of the NFF and the National Teams, the Congress commended Governor Umo Bassey Eno and his cabinet and encouraged them to do even more as the Super Eagles are ready to make Uyo its home for the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches.

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