Cristiano Ronaldo will be first billionaire footballer as social media pays off

Cristiano Ronaldo is fast closing in on soon being able to call himself the first billionaire footballer.

The Juventus superstar, 35, last week agreed to take a pay cut as part of his club’s cost-cutting amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

A statement from the Italian champions declared: “Juventus Football Club S.p.A. announces that, due to the current global health emergency is preventing the performance of the sporting activity, it has reached an understanding with the players and the coach of the First Team regarding their compensation for the residual portion of the current sport season.

“The understanding provides for the reduction of the compensation for an amount equal to the monthly payments of March, April, May and June 2020. In the coming weeks, personal agreements with the players and the coach will be finalised, as required by the current regulations.”

However, that isn’t set to slow down the Portuguese captain’s growing personal wealth.

Ronaldo’s on and off-field earnings will soon see him join sport’s exclusive billionaire club – currently featuring only boxer Floyd Mayweather and Tiger Woods.

Ronaldo joined Juventus in 2018

In 2019, Ronaldo hauled in £88million ($109m) as football’s second highest paid player – behind long-time rival Lionel Messi – according to Forbes.

A staggering £52million ($65m) of that comes via his contract with the Bianconeri – albeit taxed at 43 per cent.

But it is off-the-pitch where Ronaldo is making more money than ever before; last year he earned £36million ($44m) through commercial ventures.

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And having swapped Spain for Italy in 2018 he is making his commercial deals go further, with earnings from the likes of Tag Heuer, Nike and his own CR7 brand only subject to a single flat tax of just under £100,000.

Ronaldo and agent Jorge Mendes, who has guided his career

Ronaldo’s commercial value drives mega-money to his sponsors via social media; across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, he boasts 420million followers and each advertised post earns him in the region of £900,000.

According to Business Insider, the Champions League’s record goalscorer made 30 per cent more from paid Instagram posts (£39m) during his first season at Juventus than his take home pay (£30m) from the club.

As his followers on social media have continued to increase, so too has his earning power.

Forbes’ sports money analyst Christina Settimi declared last week: “With the additional $45million (£36m) he makes as a walking billboard, pitching products head to toe for the likes of Nike and his CR7 line of underwear, footwear, and cologne, Ronaldo can still earn $91million (£74m) annually to retain his standing among the best-paid in all of sports, and still become the third active athlete to crack the $1billion (£800m) mark in career earnings at the end of this season.”

It is part of the reason why Ronaldo has so embraced social media – most notably Instagram – in recent years, offering fans something of a look behind the scenes.

As the number of followers has increased, so too have the number of more personal posts.

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Ronaldo’s advertising power is huge

Ronaldo’s Portugal teammate Jose Fonte stated on Thursday that he has “left the door open” for a return to Real Madrid.

“It’s clear that he loves the club itself, it’s one of the biggest clubs in the world, if not the biggest.

“He’s left many, many friends there and he’s always left the door open. So I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes back to Real Madrid.”

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But Madrid’s pivot to signing younger players since his exit suggests a return is a no-go however.

Financially, it would prove costly to Ronaldo too; given Spain’s own tax laws – which he previously fell foul of, eventually paying a £17million fine – he would face far more taxation on his earnings.

Woods became the first sporting billionaire while still competing back in 2009.

Unbeaten boxer Mayweather joined him in 2017.

Now, despite the uncertainty surrounding sport amid the global coronavirus pandemic – and having donated over £1.5million with his agent, Jorge Mendes, to help hospitals in his native Portugal – it’s a matter of time until Ronaldo joins them.


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