Football is the world’s sport. This is often said, sometimes even with plenty of context, but it’s such a known fact that it’s seldom worth exploring in depth. And yet, couldn’t that mean another sport has usurped its popularity? Or is actively challenging it?
Theoretically, yes. Functionally, no. There is evidence all over the place of football’s continued world domination. Look at the size of their stadiums.
Look at the social media followings on club accounts and of the players. Look at how popular football matches are to bet on—and don’t just look at sportsbooks, but at the virtual game markets that can be found at places like the Mr. Green online casino.
Look at football player salaries, too. Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Lionel Messi account for three of the five highest paid athletes in the world for the 2020 fiscal year, according to Forbes. Definitely look at the value of franchises overall, as well. Three of the 10 most valuable sports clubs on the planet are football teams. Most of the organizations have net worths in the billions of dollars.
Another form of proof that doesn’t get utilized nearly enough to validate the sport’s overwhelming popularity: The money being earned by managers. They are the highest paid coaches in the world, bar none, with salaries that often cruise into the eight-figures-annually range.
Naturally, as one of the world’s flagship football franchises, Inter Milan is paying a handsome sum to their manager, Antonio Conte. But is he the highest paid coach of Inter football in general?
How Much is Antonio Conte Actually Paid?
First, it’s important to note how much Conte is earning, and why that number exists.
Football manager salaries are reported not just for the money they’re being paid by their incumbent club, but any pre-existing contracts that were terminated early and bonuses they may have earned from the previous season.
With all this in mind, Conte is taking home an estimated €30m, which is around $35.6 million US. (Just for context: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, the highest paid manager in perhaps the world’s second most popular team sport, is at around €10.5m, or $12.5 million US.) Granted at least one-third of Conte’s salary comes from his severance package when he left Chelsea in 2018, but that still counts towards his earnings.
Conte’s base salary with Inter Milan is more like €20m ($23.7 million US), which is still on the higher end. Relative to the football manager market, though, he’s well worth his price point.
He brings a wealth of experience to the sideline, as both a coach and former player with stops at Arezzo, Siena, Bari and Juventus, in addition to Chelsea. His current deal with Inter Milan is set to run through June 2022—assuming he finishes it.
Does Any Football Manager Make More Than Antonio Conte?
As it turns out, Conte is not the world’s highest paid manager. That title belongs to Diego Simeone from Atletico Madrid. His total annual earnings currently sit around €40.5m ($48.1 million US).
This number is much higher than Conte’s gross salary, but Simeone is in a unique situation.
For starters, he has been at the helm of Atletico Madrid since 2011—nearly a decade. Longevity was always going to boost his total pay grade. But his salary is also inflated by money he receives as part of a Range Rover partnership and even some real estate investments.
Where Does Antonio Conte’s Salary Rank?
If you were thinking Conte was the world’s highest paid football manager, you’re not actually that far off. He is No. 2, behind only Simeone.
This stands to change in the coming years. He won’t always have a roughly €9m ($10.7 million US) severance payment coming from Chelsea, and his base salary with Inter Milan will climb by only so much on a per-year basis.
If he’s going to beat out Simeone—or even just maintain his spot at No. 2—he’ll likely need some lucrative sponsorships of his own. Failing that, Pep Guardiola from Manchester City will have a genuine chance at surpassing him. His base salary from City slightly exceeds what Inter Milan is giving Conte, by around €2m ($2.4 million US).