Did you know that football and politics indirectly cavort with each other and it takes an intelligent individual to be able to manage the two together? The basic meaning of the word “politics” in Greek is “the affairs of the city”
Now, isn’t this interesting? Football, on the other hand, is a game for the fans, a game for the people, and a game for the world – that’s why football and politics will forever be in a genial relationship.
Eugene J McCarthy once said that “being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game and be dumb enough to think it’s important” It’s crystal clear that the basic meaning of football and politics is “managing the affairs of the people“.
It’s therefore imperative and justifiable if some football players are found in the corridors of politics whether in their nations or at the political side of football even after retirement.
Here are footballer greats that have delved into politics
Aboubacar Sidiki “Titi” Camara – Guinea
Aboubacar Sidiki “Titi” Camara is a former Guinean attacker that played for some European clubs. He became the Anfield crowd favorite in the 1999-2000 season when he dazzled the Merseyside fans against West Ham. A total of 9 goals were scored by the Guinean in 33 games, memorably scoring the winner in a game against Arsenal at Highbury.
Camara scored 74 goals in 354 career games. He managed the Syli National team in 2009 and after three months at the helm, he was replaced by Mamadi Souaré, a former Captain of the Syli National.
In December 2010, Camara became the Sports Minister of Guinea by president Alpha Condé making him the country’s first ex-sportsman to hold a government post in the country after retiring. He was replaced in 2012.
Romario – Brazil
Romario is one footballer that had a colorful career as a football player. Unlike some of his colleagues, having wowed the football world and becoming one of the best players Brazil has produced, the former Barcelona striker has gone a long way to dispel the fable and sterile cliche that “players are only useful in football“.
In the 2010 general election, Romário was elected to the Chamber of Deputies on the Brazilian Socialist Party ticket. He was the sixth most voted candidate for deputy in Rio de Janeiro. He’s so much influential and vociferous so much so that he pushed his political agenda against the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, denouncing the event as immersed in corruption and money laundering.
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Romário announced on the 19th of February 2014 that he would run for the Brazilian senate in the 2014 general election, and the decision was officially confirmed in June. On October 5, Romario was elected to the Brazilian senate with the most votes received ever by a candidate representing the state of Rio de Janeiro.
Romário currently is the incumbent federal senator from Rio De Janeiro- the office he assumed on the 1st of February 2015. And he’s the fourth-highest goal scorer for the Brazil national team, behind Pelé, Ronaldo, and Neymar. He is second on the all-time list of Brazilian league’s top scorers with 154 goals. He is the second-most prolific goal scorer in the history of football. Football and Politics – Romário was born and shaped up for the two!
Kakha Kaladze – Georgian
Former AC Milan and Dynamo Kyiv defender that was so versatile in his days as a player. The then footballer can play in the center back, left-full back and wide midfield positions in those days. He scored 27 goals in 538 career games.
Shortly after his retirement from football in 2012, he became an MP in October of the same year in the capacity of Deputy Prime Minister and later as Minister of Energy due to his wealth of experience in the energy business and how he can use his experience to rake in more money for his country, Georgia.
In July 2017, Kaladze resigned as Energy minister in order to run for Tbilisi mayor in the upcoming local elections and On 22 October, he was elected mayor as a candidate of Georgian Dream, winning the elections with 51% of the votes. He was sworn in on 13 November 2017 and to date, he still occupies the position.
Segun Odegbami – Nigeria
Are you shock to see the Nigerian football veteran on this list? Please don’t be. Everything about “The Mathematical” is football but he also has a tremendous love for politics.
The 67-year old Nigerian has at one point (September 2015 precisely) stated his intention for the FIFA presidency – but never contested. Elections in Nigeria happens every four years, (just like the FIFA World Cup) and to remind you again, football and politics are in tandem!
The former captain of the Nigerian National team contested for the Governorship seat in the South-Western part of Nigeria, Ogun State on the radar of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) Albeit, he came sixth at the polls, but he has never stopped in trying to serve his motherland in the political aspect. He’s worthy of a spot in our list of footballers that became politicians after retirement.
Pelè – Brazil
Edson Arantes do Nascimento commonly known and referred to as Pelé is arguably the Greatest Player of all time as of now, scoring 1283 goals in 1366 appearances. Can you beat that?
Although he was not directly a public office holder, he was always one way or the order involved in politics. Pelé was appointed a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in 1994 and a year later, Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso appointed Pelé to the position of Extraordinary Minister for Sport.
He’s also a bigwig in the proceedings and making of decisions of every football-related issue in the world. A god!
Hakan Şükür – Turkey
The story of this young gentleman is a story one might be emotional about. A successful footballer, and after football, got involved in politics and now an Uber driver and also a bookseller in the United States.
Şükür is of Albanian origin. Both his parents are immigrants from Yugoslavia, his father being born in Pristina, and his mother in Skopje. Şükür represented Turkey a total of 112 times scoring 51 goals, making him the nation’s top goalscorer and 19th in the world at the time of his retirement.
One of the most prolific strikers of the modern era, he netted 383 goals throughout his club career as well as the fastest ever in a World Cup, in 2002. He retired from football in 2008, only scoring once in single digits for his main team in 13 seasons; he was renowned for his heading ability.
He was elected as a Member of Parliament to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in the 2011 general elections, from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), representing the 2nd electoral district of Istanbul Province.
The Turkish was charged with insulting president Erdoğan on Twitter in 2016. In August of the same year, a warrant was issued for his arrest as he was charged with being a member of the Gülen movement, designated as a terrorist organization in Turkey.
Rivera won the prestigious Ballon d’Or in 1969, as well as winning two European Cups with AC Milan and also winning the European Cup with the Azzurri’s in 1968.
Only three players have made more appearances for AC Milan than Rivera, and he went on to become Rossoneri‘s vice president after retiring, holding various posts in Italy’s government. He went on to become an MP, serve as an under-secretary of defense, and was a member of the European parliament between 2005 and 2009.
Grzegorz Bolesław Lato is a retired Polish footballer and manager who played as a winger. He was a member of Poland’s golden generation of football players who rose to fame in the 1970s and early 80s.
He represented Poland at 5 major tournaments starting with Gold at the Summer Olympic Games in Munich in 1972, he reached the peak of his career in the 1974 World cup where he was the leading goal scorer and he remains the only polish player to have won the award till date.
He was a member of the Democratic Left Alliance, acting as a Polish senator for four years for the Rzeszow region, between 2001 and 2005. Before being elected head of the Polish FA (PZPN), he sacked manager Leo Beenhaker live on TV after the country failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.
George Weah – Liberia
The Liberian President loves to do unprecedented things. As a player, George was the first and only African to win the FIFA Ballon D’or and he has set another record that may take decades to be broken. He’s the first player to be elected as the President of his country.
After making his intention to run for the seat of the President of Liberia in 2005, he formed the Congress for Democratic Change to back his candidacy.
He was mocked by his opponents due to his lack of formal education as a handicap to his ability to lead the country, in contrast with his Harvard – educated opponent, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. He was even tagged as “babe-in-the-woods” due to his lack of experience in public office.
Well, he didn’t win the election (You’ve got to crawl before you can walk, and you’ve got to walk before you can run) but traveled to the USA to acquire the formal education that served as an impediment to his first desire of governing his country.
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In 2014, he ran for election to the Senate as a Congress for Democratic Change candidate in Montserrado County. He was overwhelmingly elected to the Liberian Senate on 20 December 2014.
Weah defeated Robert Sirleaf, the son of President Sirleaf, becoming the first Liberian athlete elected to represent a county in the Legislature.
Weah again announced in April 2016 his intention to run for President of Liberia in the 2017 elections, standing for the Coalition for Democratic Change.
After winning the first round of the 2017 election with 38.4% of the vote, he and Joseph Boakai of the Unity Party went into the second round of the election. In the second round, Weah was elected President of Liberia, winning a run-off against Vice President Joseph Boakai with more than 60% of the vote.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
The former Turkish Prime Minister has had quite a distinguished career in politics, but Erdogan was also a professional football player who has played for Turkish clubs such as Esenler Erokspor, Camialtı, and İETT Spor.
Erdogan’s adventure in football started when he was 15, He moved from Erokspor to play for Camialtı, another leading amateur club in the 1970s. where he played as a forward for seven years.
After Camialtı, İETT Spor secures his services and enjoyed 5 titles in his 7 years stint with İETT Spor, he was also studying and doing youth politics at the same time.
Erdoğan played football for Kasımpaşa before being elected as the Mayor of Istanbul in 1994-1998, as the candidate of the Islamist Welfare Party. He was later stripped of his position, banned from political office, and imprisoned for four months for inciting religious hatred.
And all this didn’t stop ambition and go on to become Turkey Prime Minister from 2003 to 2014, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a Turkish politician serving as the 12th and current President of Turkey. Now you know.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.
Top 15 Highest Paid Players In Ligue 1
Ligue 1 no doubt harbors quite a number of talented players, as such it’s quite understandable for those considered to be world-class players among them to cash out hugely on what they earn at the end of the month.
As of late, the players’ salaries have given indications of solid development, on account of the tremendous income pouring into the game. The fierce rivalry between the country’s top football clubs has brought the nature of the competition higher than ever. The league has more than its own fair share of highly paid players.
Here is a rundown of the top 15 highest-paid players in the Ligue 1
- Neymar Jr – (Paris Saint Germain, – €3.06 Per Month )
Behind Ronaldo and Messi, the Brazilian forward is regarded as the third-best player in world football since moving from Santos to Barcelona in 2013 for a deal reported worth €86.2million.
After apparently growing and widening his status as a footballer with his achievement on and off the pitch, it was evident that the former Puskas Award winner would go on to attract top elite clubs.
With the Parisian club brimming with a lot of cash to flex muscles with high spending clubs, it was just a matter of time before Neymar would join them. Fast forward to 2017, the Selecao captain signed for PSG for a world record transfer fee worth €222million, and since then he’s been an important figure of both the club and their project.
Amidst transfer rumors of him returning to his old home Barcelona, plus the fact that the Parisian are also ready to offer him a new deal that would tie him down with the French side for at least another three seasons.
- Kylian Mbappe – (Paris Saint Germain, € 1.91m Per Month)
As a World Cup winner and one of the best prospects in world football, it’s quite understandable for Mbappe to be among the highest-paid players in Ligue 1 and Paris Saint Germain. The 2018 World Cup winner burst into the scene as a young player for Monaco, making his professional debut in 2015 at the age of 15.
The Frenchman signed for the Parisian club in 2017 on loan, which was later made permanent in 2018. He has shown to be a great prospect for both the club and their project in dominating the Ligue 1 and also flex muscles with the top clubs in Europe.
His permanent transfer to Paris Saint Germain is reported to be worth €180million, making him both the second most expensive player and most expensive teenager. Since joining the Ligue 1 Champions permanently, the 22-year-old has scored over 120 goals for the Parisian club.
However, amidst the rumor of Real Madrid prepping up to break the bank in their quest to bring him down to the Bernabeu, the World Cup winner is still actively the second biggest earner in the league and of course Paris Saint Germain.
- Correa Marquinhos & Marco Verratti – (Paris Saint Germain, €1.2m Per Month)
Since the departure of top players such as Edinson Cavani, Zlatan, and recently Thiago Silva, Marquinhos’s status has risen from being a mere squad player in the dressing room into a leader, captain, and one of the best gladiator of the club.
As a 19-year-old teenager, the Brazilian was signed in 2013 on a five-year deal by Paris Saint Germain from AS Roma for a fee of around €31.4million. And as reported by BBC Sport, the deal was said to be the highest transfer fee for a teenager then, while Sky also reports it to be the then fifth highest transfer.
The current form of the Brazilian makes him rank as one of Europe’s most valuable players, most especially as a player who is currently plying his trade with the best team in France.
According to the transfer market rating, Marquinhos market value currently stands at €70million, as such with his years of experience and playing over 313 matches for the Parisian, it’s no surprise that the club captain takes home €1.2m per month tied with the Italian on the same amount.
As for the Italian, he’s also been a very instrumental player for the team since joining the club nine years ago. There have always been rumors concerning his future, either joining Barcelona or go back to Italy, but as it stands his current contract with Paris Saint Germain would expire in 2024.
- Angel Di Maria – (Paris Saint Germain, €1.1m Per Month)
Since joining the Parisian for €63million after a disappointing stint with Manchester United in 2015, the Argentine winger has continued to prove to the world that he’s still one of the best players in football since leaving Real Madrid.
Di Maria isn’t just rank among the highest earner for doing nothing, he earns his pay through his brilliant performances over the years since joining them, accumulating a total of 251 appearances scoring over 88 goals and 104 assists.
The former Real Madrid winger may not stay in the Ligue 1 with Paris Saint Germain for three years or more, as he’s already moving close to the end of his career. However, with his deal still running that makes him the fourth-highest earner in the league.
- Keylor Navas – (Paris Saint Germain, €1m Per Month)
When Navas joined Madrid from Levante in the summer of 2014, no one ever thought he’s going to achieve quite a number of success with Los Blancos based on where he was coming from and his antecedent as a goalkeeper.
After a successful stint with Los Merengues, the imminent arrival of Thibaut Courtois means the Costa Rican goalkeeper days at Real Madrid are numbered.
With his achievement at Real Madrid, it was evident that the Costa Rican won’t find it hard to get good European suitor to come by, as such Paris Saint Germain came calling for his services in 2019 having been told he won’t be Real Madrid number one going forward into the new season.
Following Navas’s move to the French capital, it means his salary would be on the high side based on his achievement and reputation as a Champions League winner with arguably the biggest club in Europe.
As a Paris Saint Germain player, he earns €1m per month, making the Costa Rican one of the highest-paid players in Ligue 1
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- Mauro Icardi – (Paris Saint Germain, €800,000 Per Month)
The imminent departure of El Matador when Icardi joined Paris Saint Germain on loan means the responsibility of goalscoring would be on the shoulder of the Argentine. The former Inter Milan forward made his loan permanent with the PSG following a strong start in Paris.
The Argentine and controversy certainly go hand in hand based on his antecedent with his previous clubs. Everywhere he goes he has always shown he could lead the line perfectly, and since he joined the Parisian permanently no report of controversy has been recorded concerning the former Nerazzurri captain.
Icardi may not be the poster boy of PSG just like his days at Inter, that doesn’t make him less of a player in the dressing room among other star players like Neymar and Mbappe who are no doubt the face of the club.
- Leandro Paredes – (Paris Saint Germain, €750,000 Per Month)
Juan Bernat – (Paris Saint Germain, €700,000 Per Month)
Presnel Kimpembe – (Paris Saint Germain, €670,000 Per Month)
Ander Herrera – (Paris Saint Germain, €650,000 Per Month)
Wissam Ben Yedder – (Monaco, €650,000 Per Month)
Cesc Fabregas – (Monaco, €600,000 Per Month)
Julian Draxler – (Paris Saint Germain, €600,000 Per Month)
Idrissa Guaye – (Paris Saint Germain, €500,000 Per Month)