very football player’s dream is to play in major leagues such as the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Italia Serie A, German Bundesliga, French Ligue One, Dutch Eredivisie, to mention but a few. The reason is that these leagues are known to pay football players outrageous salaries and bonuses on a weekly basis, the type that would make a person question the source where these clubs get their resources from.
Sport is one of the most lucrative businesses in the world today and it is no surprising that every successful sportsman out there be it in basketball, soccer, golf, boxing and the likes cashes-in in the range of multi-million from Europe to North America, Asia to Latin America, the trend is the same.
But, the only continent that lags behind is the beautiful mother nature of Africa. So, this begs the question, what do some of Africa’s top-tier football clubs pay their players, despite many players seeking better income in local leagues?
The most coveted trophy in Europe just came to an end a month ago in July, and Italy emerged victorious as the champion of Europe. During the competition, N’Golo Kante, Bukayo Saka, and Romelu Lukaku were among the African-born players who competed in the UEFA Euro 2020 finals.
Saka was born in London, England, to Nigerian parents, but played for England; Kante was born in Paris, France, although his roots can be traced back to Mali, and he played for France; and Lukaku’s parents are from the Congo, Central Africa, and he headed Belgium’s attacking line.
Many African players were on display at the Euros, and widespread movement of African players seeking better economic possibilities, owing to the weak financial situation of some African leagues, played a part in this occurrence.
Despite the fact that several African countries have their own leagues, many of the teams involved are unable to sustain their players due to a lack of financial resources.
Some clubs, for example, cannot afford a team bus let alone a stadium, and, to make matters worse, cannot afford to pay their players monthly wages.
Other teams can afford to pay salaries and allowances, but they occasionally struggle to do so, which is in stark contrast to what happens in Europe, and this could be one of the reasons why many players are looking for greener pastures.
Let us take a look at some of the African countries and how much their players make in their different leagues.
What is the average salary for Kenyan footballers?
Despite the fact that the top division is expected to receive significant sponsorship for the 2020-21 season, Kenyan clubs pay their players an average of $800 per month, excluding allowances for performance-based bonuses.
Although the $800 represents a rise over the previous three seasons, not every team can afford to pay their players the same amount. Few teams with title sponsors, such as AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia can afford to pay such a high fee.
Owing to the fact that the majority of players in the league sign as free agents, it might be difficult to determine who the best-paid player in Kenya is.
Apart from Gor Mahia, cooperative clubs such as Bandari, Tusker, and Ulinzi Stars have little trouble paying their players, with the highest-paid players receiving an average of $500.
Last season, both AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia were unable to pay their playing units and technical bench, resulting in a mass exodus from both local giants, and Sony Sugar was relegated to the lower division for the first time in Kenyan league history after failing to honor three matches due to financial constraints.
How about South Africa and Nigeria?
Players’ pay in South Africa is determined by a variety of factors, the most important of which is the club for which they play, with average monthly earnings ranging from $7,000 to $8,500.
For example, a large number of top players at Mamelodi Sundowns, the Premier Soccer League winners, earn roughly $280,000 per year, but player salaries are frequently kept hidden.
In 2014, the Premier League Club Owners Association in Nigeria confirmed that Premier League players will be paid a minimum of $365 per month.
The minimum pay was to be reassessed and increased by $120 from the 2014-15 season, according to SuperSport, when no NPFL (Nigeria Professional Football League) player was to earn less than $1,250 per month.
However, like many African leagues, Nigeria has had days where players are not paid at all or are paid less than what they agreed to in their contracts, resulting in players refusing to play in protest.
What about the rest of the continent?
Footballers in Ghana are claimed to make $1,000 per month on average, while players in Morocco earn $7,000 per month on average.
Egypt’s highest-paid player earns $1,200,000 a year thanks to one of the best leagues in Africa and top teams such as Zamalek and Al Ahly.
Players in Tunisia earn an average of $30,000 per month, while those in Angola earn $25,000; players in the Democratic Republic of Congo earns $20,000, while players in Sudan are paid $15,000; in Zambia league, players get $7,000, and those in Ethiopia are paid $7,000; players in Mozambique league makes $5000 monthly, and in Tanzania, it is $5000 monthly; those in Botswana earns $3,000, while players in Gabon goes home with $2,000 per month; the same cannot be said of Rwanda where players receive $1,500 monthly and in Zimbabwe, players get as little as $1,200 per month respectively.
Of all the leagues across Africa, that of the Nigerian football league remains the poorest of all where players are underpaid, less than $1000, making the Nigerian league the least attractive destination point for top-notch players in Africa. And, as such, the crop of players being produced out into the national league more often than not, cannot perform professionally because they are “underfed”.
Aside from players’ wages and salaries, a mirage of problems are bedeviling the Nigeria Professional Football League such as technical issues where there are no good training kits and equipment for the players, and in most cases, out of the little the players are being paid, they use such to buy their own kit because of the love they have for not for the club, but for the sport.
Furthermore, most of these clubs do not own a facility of their own. Some matches in the NPFL are being played in an open plain field where spectators had to stand on their feet for the entire duration of the match; and, the only thing separating the pitch from the spectator’s stand is a 5 feet tall wall made of mesh.
The lack of sports facilities means the lack of media coverage. Prior to this period, football lovers across Nigeria barely knew that local league exists. All thanks to the management of SuperSport under the aegis of MNET Africa that came up with the initiative of televising some of the matches to Nigerians on their platform, DSTV.
The poor management culture and infrastructure deficits that most sector in the Nigerian economy is known for also come to light in the local football league and the organization responsible for making sure that the league is nurtured to admirable ground, the Ministry of Sports in conjunction with the NFF (Nigeria Football Federation), play possum of the fact that everything is collapsing and not what it ought to be.
I am not surprised that both our national team and club teams perform poorly at international events in Africa and globally. Barely 10 days at the Olympics ongoing in Tokyo, Japan, and the Nigerian contingent are yet to bag a single medal in any event at the competition while the likes of China, Japan, USA, Australia, and other countries who take sport as serious business had already racked up medals in the tens and units.
Sport is a serious business and it should not be managed with kid gloves. I admonish those in charge of management and appointments to put a round peg where it fits and not in a square hole.