Soccer international Benjani Mwaruwari has been ranked the highest paid Zimbabwean sportsperson by respected New York sports magazine ESPN pocketing $3 million each year and joins the continent’s A-list earners.
The ESPN Magazine/SportingIntelligence Global Salary Survey has established striker Mwaruwari is the highest paid Zimbabwean sportsperson earning $3 405 584 per year in a country with average per capita income of $384.
The survey was based on 181 athletes from Africa, Asia, Australia, North and South America.
The salary survey, featured in an ESPN magazine article titled All About the Money Issue states that Mwaruwari compares well with other English Premier League stars from Africa, such as Morocco and Arsenal forward Marouane Chamakh (US$4 247 000) and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s top earner, Christopher Samba (US$3 000 000), who like Mwaruwari also plays for Blackburn.
Ivory Coast’s Yaya Toure, who plays for Manchester City, tops the African pay list with an annual salary of $18 200 000 per year.
Real Madrid star Emmanuel Adebayor tops the pay league in Togo with $11 900 000 and Samuel Eto’o is Cameroon’s highest earner with $8 000 000 per year.
The 33-year-old Mwaruwari was, however, modest on his rich pickings yesterday saying the magazine was probably using the figures based on his salary at previous club Manchester City.
“The figures they are using are probably from my days at Manchester City because I took a pay cut at Blackburn, but I am still hovering around that figure. What about (Olympic swimming champion) Kirsty Coventry?” Mwaruwari said from his England base on Wednesday.
Mwaruwari said he owed his success to a healthy lifestyle and hard work on the field of play.
“This is the reason why I had to retire from the Warriors, I am reaching retirement age and I need to prepare for life after football. It’s difficult to have such achievements and juggle with the national team,” Mwaruwari said.
The salary survey collated figures from 14 sporting disciplines including football, cricket, tennis and golf.
Meanwhile, world soccer powerhouses Barcelona and Real Madrid, Major League Baseball defending champions New York Yankees and the defending National Basketball Association champions Los Angeles Lakers lead this year’s list of the Top 100 best-paying sports teams in the world.
The teams covered in the survey pay out a combined $15,2 billion in annual salaries, which are calculated from base salaries of current or most recently-completed team seasons but exclude bonuses, endorsements, appearance fees or any other source of extra compensation.
Topping this year’s list are Spanish soccer giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, with average annual salaries of $7,9 million and $7,35 million per player respectively.