PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- No matter how the World Cup ends, there's already one guaranteed winner: FIFA.
The global soccer governing body is expected to pocket $4 billion in marketing rights alone from this year's World Cup in Brazil. It's pulling in $100 million apiece from partners including Sony, Coca-Cola, Visa and Adidas and $20 million each from sponsors including McDonald's, Budweiser and Johnson & Johnson. It gets the overwhelming majority of the revenue from the sale of official World Cup merchandise, which totaled roughly $2.7 billion in 2010, and absorbs none of the costs when an event runs over budget -- such as the 2010 World Cup did when costs jumped from an estimated $450 million to a cool $6 billion.
Just remember the scale of that revenue the next time someone knocks a soccer player for making millions playing the game. We're not going to say that soccer is a pauper's sport -- unless you're a non-designated player in Major League Soccer who gets paid like a receptionist -- but in the grand scheme of things it's also not nearly as rich as English Premier Leage, La Liga and Bundesliga payrolls may suggest.
When Forbes compiled its list of the 100 Richest Athletes in the world last year, a soccer star didn't appear until No. 8. His name is David Beckham and the 39-year-old hasn't played a minute of meaningful soccer since retiring with Paris Saint Germain last year. He hasn't played for England since 2009 and hasn't scored a goal since the Los Angles Galaxy loaned him to A.C. Milan that same year. Still, that brief time with PSG, his lifetime contract with Adidas and his continued work with H+M paid him $47.2 million last year -- with just $5.2 million coming from actually playing soccer.We dug into that Forbes list and found the well-paid players who made their nations' World Cup rosters this year. Many aren't household names in the U.S., but they're making more than U.S. athletes who are:
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