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Meet African football stars investing in football business

Meet African football stars investing in football business

As football clubs become a more attractive asset class, African star players are increasingly keen on sharing in the rising value their efforts on the field helped create.

African football stars and their business advisors are tapping into the investment trend. Football teams are becoming a more and more desirable commodity for large investors.

Due to the growing value of media rights, clubs have seen a significant increase in value over the past 20 years, especially those at the top of the game in Europe’s major leagues.

According to a Football Benchmark assessment, the aggregate enterprise value of the 32 most well-known clubs doubled from 2016 to 2023 as a result of a surge in the purchases of elite football clubs in Europe starting in 2020. According to Forbes, the average global valuation of the top 20 clubs in 2023 was expected to be $2.89 billion, a 14% annual rise.

Several African football stars have ventured into the football business by making investments in various aspects of the sport. Here, Anthony Nlebem takes a look at a few Africans investing in the football business.

Didier Drogba

Didier Drogba

Drogba, the legendary Ivorian striker, has been involved in the business of football and was associated with United Soccer League (USL) team Phoenix Rising FC, in 2017 in the rare position of player/co-owner where he played a key role in its development.

His involvement with the club has been significant, helping to raise its profile and contributing to its success on the field.

Beyond his role with Phoenix Rising FC, Drogba who led his country, Ivory Coast, in three World Cups has also expressed interest in contributing to football development in Africa and has been involved in various charitable initiatives related to the sport.

Sadio Mane

Born in a small village of Bambali, in southern Senegal, former Bayern Munich and Liverpool football star is one of the biggest Africans that have invested in football business.

The former Liverpool forward, who joined a Middle East side Saudi Pro League side Al Nassr on a £650,000-a-week wage in the summer following a spell with Bayern Munich, acquired a majority stake in French fourth-tier side Bourges Foot 18, a return to the country where he began his professional career at 19.

The 31-year-old has also helped fund the building of a hospital and a secondary school among other charitable acts. Now, he’s investing in the game that gave him so much.

Wilfried Zaha

Wilfried Zaha of Ivory Coast during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals, quarterfinals match between Ivory Coast and Algeria at Suez Stadium, Suez, Egypt on 11 July 2019 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

In June 2022, British rapper and singer Rapper Stormzy teamed up with Crystal Palace striker Zaha to buy ninth-tier English soccer side Croydon Athletic.

Zaha was born in the Ivory Coast but grew up in Croydon from the age of four, while Grime sensation Stormzy also hails from the London borough. The duo joined forces with former Palace head of player care Danny Young to buy the club.

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The club, in the talent catchment area of bigger clubs such as the English Premier League’s Crystal Palace where Zaha, 31, made his name, is expected to help uncover and develop young players.

In September 2022, Zaha and his brother Carin bought Ivorian fourth-tier club Espoir Club D’Abengourou. Carin oversees the running of his foundation which is dedicated to improving lives in the African country. They hope to get it promoted to the country’s top flight.

Other African football players like Ivorian Yaya Touré, former Ghana midfielder Michel Essien, Ghanaian striker Asamoah Gyan and Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah have made moves to invest in football teams.

Yaya Toure

Yaya Toure

Toure, 40-year-old former Barcelona and Manchester City star, has expressed interest in investing in football, and there have been reports of him considering ownership or investment in football clubs.

Michael Essien

Michael Essien

Former power-playing Chelsea and Real Madrid midfielder has also been involved in football and has expressed interest in owning a football club in the future.

Asamoah Gyan

Asamoah Gyan

Former Ghanaian striker has shown interest in football investment. He has been involved in various business ventures related to football, including owning a stake in the Ghanaian club Legon Cities FC.

Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah

Liverpool goal marshal, Salah has been involved in various philanthropic activities related to football development in Egypt. While not a club owner, his influence and contributions extend beyond the playing field.

Prominent African athletes purchasing football teams is a component of a broader global trend. Also, growing salaries in the world’s best leagues have made it possible for footballers to try their hand at being football business entrepreneurs.