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How Mbappe’s huge wage offer from Saudi compares with stars of golf, NBA, NFL



For starters, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that he stays at Paris Saint-Germain and signs a new contract even more lucrative than the one he is on now. Another alternative is to see that deal out and join Real Madrid as a free agent next summer and take advantage of the hefty signing-on fee that comes with such a move.

A third option is to sign for Saudi Pro League club Al Hilal, who are reportedly offering the 2018 World Cup winner and current France captain a one-year deal worth €700million (£602m; $772m), before deadline day on September 1 and then go to Madrid on a free this time next summer once that contract expires. A fourth possibility is that Madrid are tempted into paying PSG a fee for Mbappe before the end of this window.

Whatever Mbappe decides to do, his bank account is going to benefit massively.

There are no two ways about it: the numbers being bandied about here are grotesque and will take player wages to a new level of obscenity, but if we’re being honest they lost all meaning a long time ago.

Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), the sovereign wealth fund that is now the majority shareholder in Riyadh-based Al Hilal, is willing to spend €1billion (£860m; $1.1bn), of which €300m (£258m; $331m) would be paid to PSG as a transfer fee, to acquire Mbappe’s services for a single season.

The transfer fee alone would be a world record, comfortably surpassing the (£190.3m; $245.8m) PSG paid Barcelona to sign Neymar in 2017.

Lionel Messi turned down a €1.2billion (£1bn; $1.3bn) two year-contract from Al Hilal last month to instead join Inter Miami in MLS. Meanwhile, his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo is being paid £175m ($226m) a year by Al Hilal’s Riyadh neighbours Al Nassr.

When you consider Trevor Francis, who passed away on Monday, became the first £1million ($1.3m at current exchange rates) British player in 1979, moving from Birmingham City to Nottingham Forest, the money involved in the possible Mbappe transaction seems even more astronomical.

Kieran Maguire, the football finance expert, has worked out that Francis’ 1979 fee today, when revenue increases over time as a measure of purchasing power, would be worth £253.5million ($327.3m).

If this is taken into the current context, Al Hilal’s offer that would see £258million go to PSG does not seem so unreasonable.

Very sad to read of the passing of Trevor Francis, recall him destroying Brighton at Maine Road.

His 1979 transfer fee, adjusted for football inflation (revenue increases over time as a measure of purchasing power) would be £253.5 million today. That’s how good he was.

The fee Al Hilal are seemingly ready to pay is also roughly the same figure that Real Madrid, who Mbappe could then join as a free agent in 2024 after bolstering his bank balance with a season in the Middle East, are spending to extensively rebuild their famous Bernabeu stadium.

So, yes, the finances involved here are off the scale, especially when his potential salary is broken down and you realise Mbappe stands to earn £1.65million a day. In that sense, it is not a surprise to see the negative reaction it has generated from a general public going through a cost of living crisis.

But when you compare these figures to what other top athletes earn, is it entirely out of kilter that Mbappe, one of the biggest stars in the most popular sport in the world, could command such a salary?

Tiger Woods, for example, turned down a reported $800million (£620m) last year to join the PIF-funded LIV Golf breakaway tour. Rory McIlroy, another of golf’s biggest names, is similarly said to have turned down an astronomical signing-on fee that stretched into the hundreds of millions of pounds when he chose to stay with the PGA Tour.

The common factor in the cases of Mbappe, Woods and McIlroy is that the money on the table came from Saudi Arabia.

But lofty sums can be earned in golf away from the Gulf, too. Brian Harman of the U.S. won The Open Championship on Sunday, pocketing $3million (£2.3m) for his efforts. The winner of this year’s FedEx Cup tournament, the culmination of the full 2023 season’s events on the North American-based PGA Tour, will be rewarded with a cheque for $17m (£13.2m).

Away from golf, but sticking with North America, franchises competing in the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB) are not shy when it comes to handing out big-money contracts.

The immediate caveat to point out here is that all three of those leagues are closed shops, where relegation or qualification to earn further prize money in a Champions League equivalent do not exist, which makes any investment safer.

Jaylen Brown has just signed the richest contract in NBA history, with the Boston Celtics agreeing to pay the 26-year-old $304million (£235m) over five years. The extension kicks in for the 2024-25 season, and means his annual salary will jump from $28.5m (£22.1m) to $60.8m (£47.1m).

This surpasses the previous NBA record — set in 2022 — that saw the Denver Nuggets, another part of Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke’s sporting empire, commit to paying Nikola Jokic $264million (£204.5m) in a five-year deal. Jokic led Denver to win the 2022-23 NBA title last month.

According to Spotrac, a website that breaks down contracts, LeBron James, who is regarded as one of the best NBA players ever, will have accumulated $530.9million (£411.2m) throughout his career if he remains at the Los Angeles Lakers until the end of the 2024-25 season.

James, now 38, reacted to the Mbappe news by posting a GIF on Twitter of Tom Hanks’ movie character Forrest Gump, implying he would run to Saudi Arabia if he was offered a similar one-year contract.

On a similar theme, Usain Bolt, still the men’s 100m world record-holder despite retiring in 2017, joked he would be ready to make a comeback at age 36 if the Saudis are throwing money on the table.

Switching to the NFL, Patrick Mahomes, quarterback of the reigning champions the Kansas City Chiefs, signed a 10-year deal worth up to $503million (£389.7m) in 2020.

Although no quarterback has signed such a long-term contract since then, the annual value of what they earn goes up each time one of the game’s top players at its most important position gets a new deal.

Earlier this summer, Lamar Jackson agreed one worth $260million (£203.3m) over five years — $52m (£40.3m) a year — with the Baltimore Ravens, only for the Los Angeles Chargers to sign their quarterback, Justin Herbert, to a $262.5million (£203.2m) extension of the same length on Tuesday.

Herbert’s annual salary is likely to be eclipsed by that of Joe Burrow, who is set to receive a new deal from the Cincinnati Bengals. The expectation in the industry is that Burrow will become the highest-earning NFL quarterback on a per-annum basis.

Shohei Ohtani, a rare baseball player who excels as both a batter and a pitcher, could secure a contract worth $500million (£387.3m) if he hits free agency. His current contract with the Los Angeles Angels expires when the 2023 MLB season ends in November.

In boxing, there are significant one-off payments to be earned.

Floyd Mayweather, who retired undefeated in August 2017, called himself “Money Mayweather” due to the vast pay-per-view earnings he generated. A single fight against Manny Pacquiao in May 2015, for example, reportedly made the American around £225million ($290.5m). There was a similar payday two years later when he faced Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) star Conor McGregor in a cross-sport bout that was the last of Mayweather’s career.

Mbappe, should he accept Al Hilal’s offer, will become the highest-paid player of any professional sport.

Athletes, more so than ever before, are becoming brands in their own right, and the Frenchman comfortably sits alongside the biggest names in football. He is one of the few players in the sport, a list which also includes Manchester City striker Erling Haaland, who can legitimately replace Ronaldo and Messi and take on the mantle of being at the forefront of the world’s most popular game.

The people running the PIF know this and can sense an opportunity to take the Saudi Pro League to another level in terms of interest. And when you take into account what other athletes get paid, even though their earnings are spread across multi-year contracts, elite sport is awash with money.

Mbappe would just be the latest in a long line to cash in on their worth as both a professional athlete and a brand.


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Messi’s famous Barcelona napkin auction opens in London



Lionel Mess

The auction for the napkin which famously launched Lionel Messi’s Barcelona career as a 13-year-old opened this week with a guide price of £300,000-£500,000 ($374,700-$624,500).

Bidding for the item stands at £220,000 and will be open with the British auction house Bonhams until May 17.

The sale was originally slated for for March but was postponed due to a dispute over the ownership of the napkin, which has been in the hands of Horacio Gaggioli, an Argentine agent, for the last two decades.

Josep Minguella, another advisor involved in the deal to bring Messi over from Argentina, claimed possession of the napkin following the news it would be auctioned earlier this year.

Gaggioli disputed this, while Bonhams told ESPN there were “no problems” regarding the sale of the napkin, which is listed on their website as “property of Horacio Gaggioli.”

The auction for the napkin has opened after a dispute over it original ownership. Bonhams
Minguella has not replied to ESPN’s request for comment. With Messi’s father, Jorge, beginning to doubt Barça’s commitment to his son in 2000, the club’s director of football at the time, Carles Rexach, hastily scrambled together an agreement on a napkin.

It was signed by Rexach, Minguella, who had helped bring Messi over from South America, and Gaggioli, who helped broker the deal, serving as a promise for a first contract.

Since then, it has remained under the ownership of Gaggioli in a secure vault in Andorra, the Principality to the north of Barcelona sandwiched between Spain and France.

Negotiations for it to be incorporated into Barça’s museum at the club’s Spotify Camp Nou stadium broke down in the past.

The napkin was originally signed on Dec. 14, 2000 at a tennis club in Barcelona after Rexach had received a frantic call from Jorge Messi threatening to take his son back to Argentina.

“That was when, thinking on my feet, I decided everything,” Rexach told ESPN in 2020 to mark the 20th anniversary of the signing.

“Why a napkin? Because it was the only thing I had available to hand. I saw the only way to relax Jorge was signing something, giving him some proof, so I asked for a napkin from the waiter.

“I wrote: ‘In Barcelona, on 14 December 2000 and in the presence of Messrs Minguella and Horacio, Carles Rexach, FC Barcelona’s sporting director, hereby agrees, under his responsibility and regardless of any dissenting opinions, to sign the player Lionel Messi, provided that we keep to the amounts agreed upon.’

“I told Jorge that my signature was there and that there were witnesses, that with my name I would take direct responsibility, there was nothing else to talk about and to be patient for a few days because Leo could already consider himself a Barca player.”

Messi, who now plays for MLS side Inter Miami, went on to become Barça’s greatest ever player, making more appearances (778) and scoring more goals (672) than anyone else who has played for the club.

During over 20 years in Barcelona, he won 10 LaLiga titles, seven Copas del Rey and four Champions League trophies while playing for the club before joining Paris Saint-Germain and later Inter Miami.

Individually, he has won the Ballon d’Or a record eight times and has also been named The Best FIFA Men’s Player on three occasions.

International success with Argentina had eluded him until recently, but he finally won the Copa América in 2021 and the World Cup in 2022 to go with the Olympic Gold Medal he won in 2008.



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F1 signs multi-year extension to ‘US$40m-a-year’ DHL deal



Formula One has agreed a multi-year expansion of its global partnership with logistics company DHL.


  • DHL will continue as the series’ global logistics partner
  • The extension is described as a ‘longer-term commitment’, suggesting a longer contract than the four-year extension signed in 2021.


This latest extension builds on a 20-year relationship between Formula One and DHL, with the most recent deal worth around US$40 million per season, according to sponsorship analytics platform Luscid.

Recently, DHL has worked with Formula One on reducing emissions produced by logistics, with a biofuel trial during the European leg of last season resulting in an 83 per cent reduction.


“As our longest-standing partner, DHL has become such a crucial part of the delivery of our events, so we’re delighted to continue that successful collaboration for many more years,” said Jonny Haworth, director of commercial partnerships for Formula One.

“Our partnership has seen the sport transform and grow, and DHL have been hugely supportive in our transition to become a more sustainable sport.

“This will continue to be key as we move towards 2030 and as sustainable logistics continue to develop, I look forward to seeing the positive innovations that come next.”

Coming next:

The 2024 Formula One season gets underway this week with the Bahrain Grand Prix from 29th February to 2nd March.


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CAF to make about $75m in estimated revenue for AFCON 2023



At the Stade Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan last Sunday, mixed emotions filled the air. Heartbreak for the Super Eagles of Nigeria and joy for the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire, who clinched the AFCON 2023 trophy with a 2-1 victory over Nigeria.

Ivory Coast’s remarkable journey to lifting the trophy concluded a thrilling AFCON, making it the best experience so far.


During the Africa Cup of Nations opening ceremony on January 13th, CAF President Patrice Motsepe expressed optimism that AFCON 2023 would be the best so far. The events and drama that unfolded in Abidjan undoubtedly support this claim.


Before the final of the competition, Dr Patrice Motsepe mentioned in a press conference that nearly 2 billion people had tuned in to watch AFCON 2023.


The notable rise in viewership was linked to broader broadcast rights, media coverage, commercial partnerships, and the influence of social media.

CAF had 17 commercial partners for the tournament, which included TotalEnergies as the title sponsor, official sponsors such as 1xBet, Visa, and Orange, along with regional sponsors like Ecobank, Unilever, and MTN.


Matches were shown in about 180 countries through deals with partner broadcasters like Sky, Canal+, beIN Sport, BBC, and MultiChoice, as well as 45 Free To Air broadcasters.


Media accreditation saw 6,000 journalists apply, which is double the number from the last AFCON in Cameroon in 2022.

How Many People Viewed AFCON 2021 and how it compares to AFCON 2023? 

The CAF activity report for 2021-2022 indicates that around 500 million viewers from 160 nations tuned in to watch AFCON 2021 in Cameroon, marking an increase of 40 nations compared to AFCON 2019 in Egypt.


Additionally, CAF recorded 1.4 billion streaming impressions on its digital platforms, and there were 351.4 million online video views associated with AFCON Cameroon 2021.


By sticking to the earlier estimate of 2 billion people before the final, it suggests that AFCON viewership saw an increase of over 300%, and this could be more when the official report from CAF is released.

Estimated Sponsorship Revenue for AFCON 2023 

According to GlobalData, a London-based market research firm, it is projected that CAF will generate approximately $75 million in sponsorship revenue from the current AFCON.


The tournament featured 17 commercial partners, including TotalEnergies as the title sponsor, along with 1xBet, Orange, and Unilever.


In the fiscal year 2021-2022, CAF’s overall revenue reached $103.6 million. The sponsorship funds derived from Competitions contributed significantly to this total, generating an impressive cumulative revenue of $79.8 million.


This marked a notable increase of $3.6 million compared to the previous year’s sponsorship funds.


The projected sponsorship revenue for the AFCON 2023 alone is estimated to be $75 million, underscoring the substantial and commendable contribution of CAF to this achievement.


In January, prior to the commencement of AFCON 2023, CAF disclosed a 40% increase in the prize money.


The champions, Ivory Coast, are set to receive USD 7,000,000. The Super Eagles of Nigeria will be awarded USD 4,000,000, while South Africa and DR Congo will each receive USD 2,500,000.


The other four quarter-finalists, Mali, Angola, Guinea, and Cape Verde, will individually get USD 1,300,000.


AFCON made a big impact on social media, from lively fan chats to live updates. But it wasn’t just for fun; some people also made money from it.


Last year, Twitter started an initiative where users could earn a share of the ad revenue from sponsored posts under their tweets.


Some folks partnered with brands, joined subscription programs, or got tips from their followers.


For example, a video of the final moments of the Côte d’Ivoire vs. Nigeria match, posted on the official CAF account, got over 15 million views, 1.5 million likes, and 300,000 retweets.


According to Statista, the average cost per thousand impressions for social media ads globally was $4.33 in the second quarter of 2023, making the estimated ad revenue around $65,000.


The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations was undoubtedly a success both on and off the field. The Confederation of African Football, CAF can take pride in organizing a splendid tournament.


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