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Protecting the "Beautiful Game" and Its Players

Rumors abound that Jennifer Lopez insured her, ahem, assets for $300 million (specifically her backside). Bruce Springsteen insured his voice with Lloyds of London for millions of dollars. According to Lloyds, an Australian cricket player named Merv Hughes insured his moustache for more than $300,000. Even American football player Troy Polamalu, known for his luxuriant tresses, had Lloyds insure his hair for $1 million.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil is upon us, but not everything went as planned in constructing the World Cup facilities. In fact, according to the Washington Post:

Brazil is scaling back its World Cup ambitions and reining in expectations as officials concede they are running out of time. [N]umerous projects will be left half-finished, delayed until after the tournament or simply abandoned.

Nonetheless, the “beautiful game” (soccer to Americans and football to the rest of the world) will have its top international competition.

FIFA’s insurance requirements regarding participation in the World Cup place a duty on both participating teams and football associations to obtain specific types of sports insurance. FIFA’s World Cup Regulations require that each participating team has adequate insurance to cover both team members and non-player employees. The insurance must cover several things, including (but not limited to) injuries, accidents, diseases and travel issues. Additionally, FIFA’s regulations require the organizing association, in the case of the 2014 World Cup, the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol, or CBF, to obtain and pay for “adequate and broad liability insurance” supplementary insurance coverage. The insurance is to cover risks associated with stadiums, local CBF members, volunteers and others, and the policy must specifically name FIFA as an insured party.

Sports insurance also covers stadiums, and there are many things that may go wrong in a stadium full of enthusiastic soccer fans. Stadium insurance addresses:

  • General liability
  • Accidental injury or death of spectators
  • Damage to property
  • Alcoholic beverage coverage
  • Criminal liability

Some stadium’s sports insurance policies even cover liability for civil rights violations, such as when police officers on duty at the venue make an illegal arrest and the person later sues. Given the incomplete status of many World Cup venues in Brazil, insurance liability may, unfortunately, became a major issue.

The Beautiful and Costly Game

Soccer is, by all accounts, the world’s most popular sport. How much footballers earn varies with their talent and the team they play for. Forbes lists the top 10 highest compensated soccer players in 2014 as:

Player Team Salary Endorsements Total
Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid $49 million $24 million $73 million
Lionel Messi Barcelona $42 million $23 million $65 million
Zlatan Ibrahimovic Paris Saint-Germain $30 million $4 million $34 million
Neymar Jr Barcelona $12 million $16 million $28 million
Radamel Falcao AS Monaco $23 million $3 million $26 million
Gareth Bale Real Madrid $15 million $9 million $24 million
Wayne Rooney Manchester United $18 million $4 million $22 million
Sergio Aguero Manchester City $17 million $4 million $21 million
Yaya Toure Manchester City $18 million $3 million $21 million
Fernando Torres Chelsea $17 million $3 million $20 million


Top Footballers Protect Their Greatest Assets

With ever-increasing worldwide popularity, football/soccer revenues rose, as did concerns about player injuries. As a result, some players, especially highly compensated stars, now take out insurance policies to protect their legs (and other body parts) in the event of injury.

According to Lloyds of London, UK football clubs bought more than £1 billion British pounds of liability coverage, and the vast majority of Premier League players are insured for between £5 million and £25 million pounds. It is not only individual players who take out sports insurance. In the UK, clubs must have both personal accident insurance and public liability insurance. After several years of dissension between FIFA and football clubs over liability during national team competitions (such as the World Cup), by 2012 FIFA set up an insurance policy to cover clubs up to $9.7 million per year for players injured while playing on a national team, according to Businessweek.com.

Youth Soccer Coverage

Future World Cup soccer stars all start somewhere. The American Youth Soccer organization (AYSO) provides sports insurance that covers AYSO registered players, coaches, referees and other volunteers. Events included under the accidental injury coverage include practices, games, tournaments, meetings and travel to and from events.

Famous Insurance Denials

The very nature of a sports career increases the risk of an early retirement due to an injury. ESPN The Magazine reports that not all athletes who apply for coverage are granted a policy. New York Yankee Johnny Damon, who had a history of severe concussion and eye fluttering, was denied coverage. Cheryl Ford, a WNBA All-Star who previously tore her knee cartilage and ligaments, sought coverage for her knees but was denied. Even sports insurance providers that are willing to take on the risk of insuring an athlete with a history of injuries often charge exorbitant premiums.

No matter the dangers, the agony of defeat or the financial outlays, the beautiful game will continue to entrance and entertain the world. Luckily, for most players and teams with sports insurance, the insurance industry will be there to pick up the pieces if (and when) things do not go as planned.

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