Mamelodi Sundowns star Teko Modise set the cat among the pigeons with his statement last week that Premier Soccer League (PSL) players do not earn enough to save for comfortable retirement.
His statement led to many questions such as: How much is enough?
Thing is, Modise made his statement without even revealing how much PSL players earn. He did not even say how much his salary was, which is said to be the highest at Sundowns.
This in turn led to a lot of speculation with varying reports that his monthly pay was anything between R400 000-R450 000.
When seeing these figures, some people started making calculations and wondering what Modise was gaaning on about.
Maybe he made that statement out of frustration as he has been all over the tabloids with reports that his house was on the verge of being repossessed as he had fallen behind with his payments.
Unfortunately, he did not honour any of the invitations from radio stations to explain himself.
Methinks, Modise should not have opened that door if he was not prepared to go the whole hog and tell us exactly how much he earned and what are the average salaries within the PSL.
Some calculations that followed that speculation were that players must be taught from an early age to invest a portion of their salaries, just as normal working people are advised to invest at least 15-20% of their salaries to be able to retire comfortably at the age of 60.
Dissecting this, on a show that Modise was supposed to appear on on Kaya FM, financial guru Stevie Bacher said people who earn as much as Modise is reportedly earning, should invest at least half of their salary.
"There is no way he can't live on R250 000 on a salary of R450 000," opined Bacher.
He went on to say that if he invested this amount, he would have saved about R20 million in five years, given that soccer careers are short.
Modise's statement came at the back of Kaizer Chiefs boss Kaizer Motaung having said that Itumeleng Khune was the best paid player in the league. The wily administrator also made this statement without mentioning the figures.
So given Modise and Motaung's statements, one is left with the question: Are South African soccer players a bunch of irresponsible spoilt brats who cannot take care of themselves or are they victims of unscrupulous soccer bosses and agents?
We have heard of players who buy up to seven cars at the prime of their careers. We have heard of properties being repossessed, making us wonder that if they earned as much as they are reported to, why would they buy on credit in the first place?
But I guess until the football industry is transparent enough to be able to tell the public just exactly how much players earn, we will not be able to make the correct judgment on the matter.
Even after the players union entered into an official bargaining agreement with the league, we are still none the wiser as to how much the basic salary in the PSL is.
To their credit, the union recently entered into a partnership with a credible financial institution whereby players will receive education on matters finance.
Here is hoping that this will yield positive results where we will see less and less players struggling after retirement.
But if there are any who earn north of R200 000, no matter how many they are, they shouldn't say they have nothing to save for retirement.
If so, then they have no one to blame but look at the fingers pointing right back at them.
S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.
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