Top 10 Highest-Paid Retired Athletes in 2016

Sports stars in the modern era can earn millions of dollars more than their counterparts from days gone by.

According to a 2015 Forbes report, the world’s 100 highest-paid athletes pocketed $3.2 billion between them over the preceding 12 months – a rise of 17% year-on-year.

Ever-increasing broadcast deals, personal endorsements and team sponsorships are pushing salaries to eye-watering levels.

While many current top athletes are cashing in, there’s some shrewd stars from days gone by who are still raking in the cash long after their first careers have ended.

Michael Jordan, David Beckham and Arnold Palmer are familiar names and it’s no surprise to see them appear in Forbes’ top 10 list of highest-paid retired athletes, but there are also some lesser-known people on the list.

Former NBA star Jordan retired in 2003 having banked more than $4 million in salary just twice during his 15-year playing career.

His Nike Jordan brand saw a rise in sales of 14% in the US last year, leaving him with estimated total earnings of $110 million for last year.

Jordan also benefits from link-ups with Gatorade, Five Star Fragrances, Hanes and Upper Deck. Nike has targeted doubling Jordan brand revenue by 2020, meaning his estimated worth of $1.1 billion will increase even further.

Ex-England footballer Beckham enjoys partnerships with numerous leading brands, including Adidas and Kent & Curwen, while he is edging ever-closer to launching a brand new MLS franchise in Miami.

His $65m earnings in 2015 lag some way behind Jordan, but it puts him comfortably ahead of third-placed Arnold Palmer.

The legendary golfer’s $40m comes primarily from the 500 Arnold Palmer-branded sports stores in Asia. He also puts his name to a line of drinks made by the AriZona Beverage Co. and he has owned the Bay Hill golf resort for over 40 years.

In a 12-year NBA career ex-Milwaukee Bucks player, Junior Bridgeman, never came close to reaching Jordan’s dizzy heights, but after retiring in 1987 he’s gone on to make a fortune in the restaurant business, earning $32m last year.

Bridgeman Foods has over 450 franchises, including Wendy’s, Chili’s and Fazoli’s outlets, while Blaze pizza is a new addition to his portfolio.

Jerry Richardson rounds off the top five having earned $30m in 2015. He retired in 1960 after just two seasons in the NFL, but became a success in the restaurant business before being awarded the league’s 29th franchise in 1993 with the Carolina Panthers.

American golfer Jack Nicklaus ($26m), ex-NBA star Shaquille O’Neal ($22m) and former race car driver Roger Penske ($20m) fill the next three places, with golfer Gary Player ($19m) and legendary basketball player Ervin “Magic” Johnson ($18m) completing the top 10.

Top 10 Highest-Paid Retired Athletes in 2016

  1. Michael Jordan $110m
  2. David Beckham $65m
  3. Arnold Palmer $40m
  4. Junior Bridgeman $32m
  5. Jerry Richardson $30m
  6. Jack Nicklaus $26m
  7. Shaquille O’Neal $22m
  8. Roger Penske $20m
  9. Gary Player $19m
  10. Ervin ‘Magic’ Johnson $18m

VIDEO: American runner blocks opponent on finish line of New York City Half Marathon

American runner Molly Huddle claimed a dramatic last-gasp victory in the New York City Half Marathon on March 20th, but allegations she held an opponent back at the finish line have emerged.

The 31-year-old was locked in a race to the finish line with Joyce Chepkirui of Kenya, with it appearing that the eventual winner blocked the African runner’s path at the last minute – as can be seen in the video below.

The pair were both given the time of 1:07:41, with Huddle recording victory by the smallest of margins – .08 of a second.

Chepkirui has not made a complaint about what happened and Huddle’s win is set to stand.

The prize money for the race was $20,000, with the Kenyan claiming $10,000 for finishing second.

When asked about the incident, Huddle maintained her innocence.

“I kind of was just trying to get my body across the line and not fall at the same time,” she said.

So that’s just — like I wasn’t even conscious of what my arms were doing. Yeah, I just was trying to get there. I was pretty tired.”

‘Cyborg’ debut in UFC sparks Rousey talk

Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino will take a step closer to a dream match-up with Ronda Rousey when she makes her eagerly anticipated UFC debut in May.

The current Invicta FC featherweight champion and former Strikeforce world titleholder will fight Leslie Smith at UFC 198 in her hometown of Curitiba, Brazil, but she is already eyeing a clash with the promotion’s biggest female star.

“I’m super excited about finally fighting in the UFC and making my debut in front of my hometown,” Justino said.

“I am very thankful to the UFC for finally giving me the chance to show the world why I am the baddest woman on the planet.”

Rousey’s refusal to consider stepping out of her 135-pound weight class during her reign as bantamweight champion had been a major stumbling block to her fighting Justino.

UFC boss Dana White had previously supported that decision, but with Justino’s contest against Smith set to take place as a 140-pound catchweight bout, it sets up the possibility of a fight against Rousey further down the line.

Rousey’s conqueror at UFC 193, Holly Holm, and new bantamweight champion Miesha Tate have both confirmed they would be happy to take on Justino.

“I am open to that fight,” Tate told fans at a recent Q & A session in Brisbane, Australia. “Maybe doing it at a catchweight at 140.”

“You know, I have nothing but respect for ‘Cyborg’ – she freaking eats girls for breakfast. She’s amazing – I would love to step in there with someone of her caliber.”

Justino’s switch to the UFC comes hot on the heels of rival promotion Bellator’s recent announcement that they will introduce a 145-pound women’s class.

Having quickly finished all five of her opponents in Invicta FC, Justino was running out of future options meaning the time was right for White to bring ‘Cyborg’ on board.

Whether she would be able to cut her weight sufficiently to fight in the 135-pound division is open to debate and the Brazilian has refused to confirm whether that is an option.

Despite this, Justino has a blockbuster showdown with Rousey firmly in her sights in a fight that would be a massive draw for the UFC.

“I would love to fight Ronda,” she said. “But the question is – does Ronda want to fight me?”

With Rousey set to make her comeback to the UFC at the end of 2016 it may be next year before the fight could happen, but Justino’s addition to the ranks is a major boost to promotion.

Video: Barcelona’s 12-year-olds are better than most professional footballers

Perhaps the most defining aspect of Johan Cruyff’s legacy is the values he imbued in FC Barcelona, from the first team right down to La Masia, the youth academy. More than 20 years since Cruyff left Barca, La Masia is still producing outrageously talented footballers.

In fact, these 12 year olds are probably better at football than most people will be at anything in life, ever. They certainly have the skills (if not the physical build) to outplay most professional footballers.

The video below is an extended highlights reel from the final of the Mediterranean International Cup, played between Barcelona’s Alevin A and their Madrid counterparts. The young Barca players won 2-0, but it was the quality of the build up play more than anything else that highlighted their ability and the gulf in class between the talent available to Barcelona and to other clubs.

In fact, their play was reminiscent of the current Barcelona team, minus the sensational finishing abilities of Messi, Neymar and Suarez. Which I’m sure these kids will master in the next few years.

And if you are wondering what the big deal is about 12 year olds playing football, check out these highlights:

One of the most talented youngsters at Barcelona is young Xavi Quentin Simons, a recent graduate of Alevin A. His highlight reel from last season:

Suicide bomber kills 29 people at football match in Iraq

A suicide bomber has blown himself up at a football match in Iraq, killing 29 people and wounding 60 more on Friday.

The attack happened in the city of Iskanderiyah, which is 30 miles from Baghdad. It is believed that the Islamic State are responsible for the atrocity.

The game was being played at the al-Shuhadaa stadium in a mixed Sunni and Shia Muslim town in the Babel province.

The attacker detonated the explosives at the end of the game as people congregated to watch a trophy being handed to the victorious team’s captain.

The town’s mayor was amongst those killed.

U.N. Secretary-General for Iraq Jan Kubis condemned the attack.

“The evildoers are aiming their wrath at the innocent and vulnerable civilians,” he said.

“Today, Daesh committed yet another atrocity, targeting families who were enjoying their weekend attending a football game in their hometown. This abhorrent act deserves the strongest condemnation.”

IS fighters have been embroiled in battles with the Iraqi military and Sunni tribal fighters across the Middle Eastern country over recent months.

Iraqi ground forces have been making progress against the extremists, with IS losing a perceived 40 per cent of its occupied territory in Iraq and 20 per cent in Syria.

Suicide bombings have become a mainstay of IS military tactics, with a number of similar incidents in the region since the group’s rise to notoriety.

The latest death toll adds to the high-profile incident in Belgium last week, where over 30 people were killed and 300 injured following attacks at the airport and metro station in Brussels.

Belgium’s international friendly with Portugal this Tuesday was moved to Portugal instead of being played in Belgium as previously intended, while there are increasing security fears ahead of this summer’s Euro 2016 tournament in France.

UEFA executive committee vice-president Giancarlo Abete has stated that the tournament will go ahead as planned but the prospect of games being played behind closed doors could not be ruled out.

IS claimed responsibility for a wave of attacks in Paris in November, with an international friendly fixture between France and Germany at the Stade de France one of the venues targeted.

Djokovic wins Indiana Wells, argues for men’s tennis getting more money than women

Novak Djokovic continued his domination of men’s tennis with a 6-2, 6-0 win against Milos Raonic in the final of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells on Sunday.

The Serbian raced to victory in one hour 17 minutes to move to 22-1 for the year and tie Rafa Nadal with a record-equalling 27th ATP Masters 1000 crown.

Djokovic, who beat Nadal 7-6, 6-2 in the semi-final, also maintained his perfect record against Raonic as he won their sixth career meeting.

“Best match of the tournament for me today and probably the worst for Milos,” said Djokovic. “He was not feeling his best and I wish him a speedy recovery.”

“He just told me that he might have injured the same part of the leg as he did at the Australian Open, which took him off the tour for a month.”

The Canadian suffered a groin injury at the Australian Open in January, but Djokovic showed his opponent no mercy as he claimed his fifth title at Indian Wells.

“It’s sad to have the finals like this in one way but I played a great tournament. I’ve got to be happy with what I’ve done from my side today,” he added.

“Every time he would miss the first serve, I was on top of the second serve. I was not allowing him to control the pace from the baseline, I moved him around the court. Tactically, I did everything right.”

Victoria Azarenka upset world number one Serena Williams to claim the women’s title with a 6-4, 6-4 victory.

Williams was playing in the tournament for the first time in 14 years, after taking a self-imposed exile from the event over allegations of racial abuse from fans after sister Venus pulled out minutes before their semi-final in 2001.

Azarenka took full advantage of some erratic play from her opponent, with the American making 33 unforced errors during the game.

The two-time Australian Open champion served out the first set to love, before resisting Williams’ fightback in the second to clinch her 19th WTA Tour title.

The finals were shrouded in controversy following comments about the women’s game made by Indian Wells CEO Raymond Moore.

During a Sunday morning news conference, Moore said that the WTA Tour was “very, very lucky” because it “rides on the coat-tails of the men”.

“If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport. They really have,” Moore said.

Williams responded with great poise to Moore’s “offensive” statement, which he later retracted, calling the remarks “mistaken and very, very, very inaccurate”.

She added: “If I could tell you every day how many people say they don’t watch tennis unless they’re watching myself or my sister, I couldn’t even bring up that number.”

But the highlight of the day belonged once again to Djokovic, who argued that men’s tennis should fight for more prize money than women because it had a greater viewership.

With Russia banned, US dominates World Indoor Athletics Championships

The United States dominated the final day of the World Indoor Athletics Championships on Sunday, winning five gold medals to complete their best ever showing in the event.

With Russia banned from competing, US athletes took full advantage winning gold in the men’s 1,500m, the men’s and women’s 4x400m relays, the men’s long jump and women’s high jump.

The host nation finished on top of the medal table with 13 golds, six silver and four bronze.

Ethiopia, who had been warned ahead of the event it could be banned unless it improves its anti-doping regime, finished second in the table after winning two golds on the final day.

3,000m star Genzebe Dibaba successfully defended her title, while her compatriot Yomif Kejelcha won the men’s event over the same distance.

“Doping is not good news for athletes,” Dibaba said after her race. “I think it is altitude and hard training which is responsible for success.”

American teenager Vashti Cunningham confirmed her status as a rising star in the sport as she took gold in the women’s high jump.

The 18-year-old won gold with a leap of 1.96m ahead of Ruth Beitia of Spain in second place and Poland’s Kamila Licwinko in third.

Cunningham, the daughter of legendary Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham, said: “I did not think that I would be here right now at 18 years old. It means a lot to be the world champion this young.”

The event attracted over 39,000 over the four days of competition and IAAF President Sebastian Coe said the attendances were a big boost to athletics after months of scandal, although he admitted the absence of Russian athletes was a ‘sad moment for our sport’.

“It hasn’t stopped this from being a fantastic athletic experience for spectators and athletes alike,” said Coe. “It shows you that the sport is still very strong.”

“Nobody is denying the challenges that lie ahead to regain trust, but this has been a pretty good start.”

The challenges faced by the sport were highlighted again at the weekend after it was revealed 2013 European Championship silver-medalist Nadezhda Kotlyarova has tested positive for the banned drug meldonium.

The 26-year-old sprinter is the thirteenth Russian athlete to have been caught using meldonium since it was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency on January 1, including world tennis star Maria Sharapova and speed skating Olympic gold-medalist Semion Elistratov.

Kotlyarova denies any wrongdoing: “The concentration of the substance which was found is very small – 25 nanograms. I stopped taking this stuff long before it was banned,” she said.

“I consider myself innocent, we are victims of circumstance. It’s a real shame, because this is an Olympic year, and this is how they knock people off their tracks.”

The Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) remains under pressure to prove it is compliant with anti-doping standards after being suspended from international competition following revelations of wide-spread cheating and corruption.

The IAAF will decide in May whether to lift the suspension, but if it remains in place Russian athletes will miss the Olympics which start in Rio de Janeiro on August 5.

FIFA launches legal battle against corrupt officials

FIFA is suing some of its most high profile former officials for damages of ‘tens of millions of dollars’.

In legal papers filed in New York, FIFA is attempting to recover bribes and stolen money from 41 ex-officials and marketing executives including Jack Warner and Jeffrey Webb, who have both served as FIFA vice president and CONCACAF president, and Chuck Blazer, the former CONCACAF general secretary.

The legal papers also reveal FIFA believes South Africa paid a bribe of $10m to win the right to host the 2010 World Cup.

New FIFA president Gianni Infantino commented: “The defendants diverted this money not just from FIFA but from players, coaches and fans worldwide who benefit from the programmes that FIFA runs to develop and promote football.

“These dollars were meant to build football fields, not mansions and pools; to buy football kits, not jewellery and cars; and to fund youth player and coach development, not to underwrite lavish lifestyles for football and sports marketing executives.

“When FIFA recovers this money, it will be directed back to its original purpose, for the benefit and development of international football.

“The convicted defendants abused the positions of trust they held at FIFA and other international football organisations and caused serious and lasting damage to FIFA, its member associations and the football community.

“The monies they pocketed belonged to global football and were meant for the development and promotion of the game. FIFA as the world governing body of football wants that money back and we are determined to get it no matter how long it takes.”

FIFA has been in crisis since May 2015, when a US investigation exposed widespread corruption at the top of football’s governing body.

This latest move is part of FIFA’s attempt to retain the ‘victim status’ afforded it by the US Department of Justice, helping to paint a picture that it was innocent of any crimes as opposed to being the perpetrator.

The papers also contain references to the damage caused to FIFA’s brand by the defendants’ greed, and with their executive committee set to release financial results which show a loss in excess of $100 million, this is further evidence of their quest to repair their shattered image.

Infantino has pledged to take FIFA forward into a new era of transparency and he will hope these latest developments are proof his organisation is turning over a new leaf.

Maria Sharapova dropped as UN goodwill ambassador after doping scandal

Shamed Russian tennis superstar Maria Sharapova has received another blow following the recent doping scandal, with the United Nations suspending her status as a goodwill ambassador.

The 28-year-old was catapulted into the global limelight earlier this month after admitting she failed a drugs test at the Australian Open.

Sharapova tested positive for recently outlawed substance meldonium, which was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited substances list on January 1st.

The Russian claims that she has been described the drug by her doctor in recent years as an answer to health issues, but WADA state meldonium enhances athletic performance.

The United Nations Development Programme has released a statement clarifying that Sharapova will not represent the organization until the doping investigation concludes.

“The UNDP remains grateful to Maria Sharapova for her support of our work, especially around the Chernobyl nuclear disaster recovery,” a spokesperson said.

“However, in light of Ms Sharapovaís recent announcement, we last week suspended her role as a goodwill ambassador and any planned activities while the investigation continues.”

Sharapova became a UN goodwill ambassador in February 2007, signing a symbolic $1 salary, and has been a prominent figure for the body over nine years.

Much of her work for the United Nations has been based around assisting the survivors of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and the Russian has donated $100,000 in the past to youngsters impacted by the nuclear accident.

Sharapova has family roots in the region, with her parents from the Belarusian city of Gomel.

The shun from the UN follows on from a number of commercial deals with the tennis star being cancelled by leading global companies such as Nike, Porsche and TAG Heuer.

The news will be another blow to Sharapova personally and sully her reputation further given the criteria needed to become a UN goodwill ambassador.

The organization states that ambassadors are selected based on their integrity, personality and conduct.

Sharapova could be banned for up to four years for the use of meldonium, with her participation in this summer’s Olympic Games looking increasingly bleak.

The investigation over her use of the drug is likely to be based around her motives for taking it and the information and guidance provided to her by advisors and doctors.

Support from the tennis community has been mixed, with Serena Williams offering words of encouragement while the likes of Murray and Nadal have spoken about the need for a ban.

When asked whether he personally read all communications on anti-doping, Nadal had replied: “To be honest I don’t read it. I have my doctor that I have confidence in. My doctor is the doctor of the Spanish tennis federation for a lot of years. He is the doctor of all the Spanish tennis players so I have full confidence in him. And I never take anything that he doesn’t know.

“I am 100% confident with my team and at the same time, I know all the things that I am taking so it is difficult to imagine that something like this can happen. But it is obvious that mistakes can happen – everyone can make mistakes.”

Nadal’s comments about not knowing what’s on the banned list himself are an important reminder that elite sports stars are as much a product of their own talent as they are of the teams that support them, and Sharapova’s defence hinges on this fact that she herself did not know that meldonium was banned and that she trusted her doctors.

Man City make Champions League quarters, as Arsenal face Barcelona test

Manchester City booked their place in the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday night after a 0-0 draw with Dynamo Kiev, but progression came at a cost as Vincent Kompany limped off after seven minutes.

With the Etihad Stadium outfit’s domestic form lagging of late, Manuel Pellegrini’s priority this term appears to be European glory before he is replaced by Pep Guardiola this summer.

Having won the first leg 3-1 in Ukraine, City were always comfortable but could not break down the visitors to claim victory on the night.

Kompany’s injury is a reoccurrence of longstanding calf problems and it is expected that the Belgium international will now miss the majority of the season’s remainder.

“We will know tomorrow [Wednesday] or the day after tomorrow how serious it is,” Pellegrini said after the game.

“But always with muscle injuries it is minimum a month.”

“It is difficult for me at this moment to say if he is out for the season but having a problem in his calf, we are in the middle of March, then it is middle of April so it is at least three quarters of the rest of the season.”

Kompany’s absence has blighted City’s chances this season and having the captain unavailable is a major blow for the Manchester outfit as the business end of the campaign approaches.

Atletico Madrid also booked a place in the last eight with a dramatic penalty shootout victory over PSV Eindhoven.

Similar to the first leg in Holland, the game ended 0-0 and the eventual victor was decided from 12 yards.

With seven players from both teams all hitting the back of the net, Luciano Narsingh’s miss allowed Atletico defender Juanfran to put the Spaniards in the next round.

Tonight’s action sees Arsenal face the daunting trip to Camp Nou to face defending champions Barcelona.

Arsene Wenger’s men trail 2-0 from the first leg following a Lionel Messi brace at the Emirates Stadium and will need a minor miracle to avoid elimination.

The Catalan giants have been a nemesis for the Gunners in recent years and are certainly the team to beat due to exemplary form over the last 12 months.

Although his side are underdogs to progress, Wenger has pledged to attack.

“We don’t have to calculate too much – we know we have to attack and score,” the French coach said.

“The players are united to give a strong performance.”

“Our approach was not bad in the first leg but we lost our balance and got caught. It will be a big boost for the rest of the season if we have a great game on Wednesday.”

Arsenal welcome back defender Laurent Koscielny to the heart of their rearguard, with the task of stopping Luis Suarez, Neymar and Messi arguably the toughest in world football.

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said he expected a hard game but that his side would play in their usual offensive manner.

“We want to be better than Arsenal on Wednesday. If we can, that is perfect and we will continue in the competition,” he said.

“The opponent is dangerous and we need to play very well to get to the next round.”

Wednesday’s other second leg clash will see heavyweights Bayern Munich and Juventus lock horns at the Allianz Arena.

The Bundesliga side are one of the competition favorites and will be confident of making the last eight given their two away goals from the 2-2 draw in Turin.

Juve gave themselves a fighting chance by coming back from two goals down in Italy, with last year’s defeated finalists improving significantly of late and sitting on top of the Serie A ladder currently.