By Shane McGinley
Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh and Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi among MENA region's best-paid athletes
Moroccan football player Marouane Chamakh is the MENA region’s best-paid athlete, a report from ESPN magazine has revealed.
The French-born striker earns a staggering $4.247m a year playing for English Premiership club Arsenal, which is sponsored by Dubai’s Emirates Airline. On the international scene, Chamakh is also captain of the Moroccan national team.
The Moroccan currently holds the record at Arsenal for the fastest goal scored in a Premier League match, scoring in the 37th second against Wolverhampton in November last year.
According to the ESPN report, within the GCC, goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi is the best-paid athlete and earns $3m a year. Wigan confirmed this week that they have signed the Oman goalkeeper from Bolton for a fee of £4m.
A well respected goalkeeper, Al Habsi became the first Omani to play in international football in Europe when he signed for Norwegian club Lyn Oslo in 2003. He was subsequently voted "Norwegian Goalkeeper of the Year" the following year.
“It’s something I feel very proud of, both on a personal level and as an Omani,” Al Habsi told FIFA.com in an interview last year about his international career.
“Along with Australia’s Mark Schwarzer I’m one of only two keepers from the Asia-Pacific area to play in the Premier League. I’ve learned a lot in my time with FC Lyn Oslo, then Bolton and now here at Wigan. I’m proud of what I’ve been able to achieve,” he added.
The ESPN survey looked at athletes from 182 countries, with football dominates the list with 114 footballers topping the rankings. Other sports that seem to earn their players the highest returns include basketball (18 athletes), baseball (12 athletes), auto racing (6 athletes) and golf (5 athletes).sports news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.