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The salary for a professional goalie varies wildly depending upon the league, the team and the country. Goalkeepers serve an important role on teams, often acting as team captain. Despite this, keepers generally earn less than the forwards and midfield players, who score the majority of the goals and win the major contracts with companies like Adidas and Nike.
Salary and Location
Professional goalie salary depends heavily upon location. The major European leagues in England (EPL), Spain (La Liga), Italy (Serie A) and Germany (Bundesliga) possess the capital to pay the highest salaries in the world. Secondary European leagues like Eredivisie in the Netherlands and Primeira Liga of Portugal pay lower salaries than the top European leagues though usually more than leagues in the Americas. Major League Soccer (MLS) in the United States and Primera Division in Mexico pay high wages for the Americas. As of 2010, the highest paid goalkeeper in the world, Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas, earned approximately $8.4 million. In 2011, the highest-paid goalie in MLS, Philadelphia’s Faryd Mondragon, earned a base salary of $230,000 and a total salary of $396,667.
Salary and Level
In most major soccer countries, multiple levels of leagues exist. In England, for instance, the EPL, or English Premier League, constitutes the top league, followed by the Championship, Football League 1 and Football League 2. These all constitute professional leagues, though pay diminishes incrementally for each successively lower league. All major European soccer nations have similar structures. In 2006, the average salary of a player in the EPL stood at roughly $1 million, while the average salary of a Championship player stood at roughly $316,000. League Two players earned approximately $80,000 in the same period. In 2011, one of England’s highest-paid goalkeepers, Manchester City’s Joe Hart, earns approximately $7.7 million per year.
Salary and Heirarchy
Professional soccer teams retain a number of goalkeepers in case the primary keeper falls victim to injury or underperforms. A keeper's place in the team’s hierarchy affects his salary. MLS' Philadelphia Union paid its primary goalkeeper, Mondragon, a total salary of $396,667 in 2011. The team’s secondary goalkeeper, Zac MacMath, earned a base salary of $80,000 and a total salary of $125,000 in the same year. Third tier Philadelphia goalkeeper Thome Holder, meanwhile, earned a total of $42,000. Similar pay structures exist in professional soccer leagues throughout the world.
Some soccer leagues, such as MLS and the Championship, maintain salary caps for teams. This means that teams can spend no more than a predetermined amount on all players. This limits the salary a team can afford to pay its players. As of 2010, the MLS maintained a salary cap of $2.55 million per team, about one third of what Manchester City goalie Joe Hart earns in 2011. However, MLS allows teams to hire “designated players,” or those paid outside of the salary cap. Teams generally reserve the designated player spot for attacking or creative players like Los Angeles’ David Beckham or New York’s Thierry Henry. Major European leagues have no such restrictions.
- Major League Soccer Player’s Union: 2011 Salary Information
- Yahoo Sports; The Top 50 Footballer Salaries of the Season; Brooks Peck; 2010
- The Independent; The Average Salary of A Premiership Footballer; Nick Harris; 2006
- New York Times; MLS Expands Designated Player Rule; Jeffery Marcus; 2010
- Daily Mail; Manchester City Offer goalkeeper Joe Hart New £100,000 a Week Deal; 2011