Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, commonly known as Neymar is one of the biggest names in world football. And following a record transfer fee of £198m, he’s now the most expensive player too. But how can this Christian footballer justify such an astronomical salary?
It’s clear that football has moved into another realm when it comes to the sums of money involved. But that’s hardly the fault of the players. They are merely benefactors of the competitiveness of sponsors and media empires.
Besides, there’s nothing wrong with being paid large amounts of money. What’s important is the stewardship of that money. If you are a follower of Jesus, having over £500,000 dropped into your account every week comes with a massive amount of responsibility.
Neymar was born in São Paulo. As the son of a former footballer, he fell in love with the game from an early age. He began his career at Santos, the club where Pelé spent most of his career, and then moved to Barcelona in 2013. Paris Saint Germain (PSG), with their billionaire Qatari owners, paid an unfathomable amount for the 25-year-old player to further their hopes of achieving a European Champions League title. He’s the current captain of the Brazilian national football team, an honour he was given while only 22.
Neymar has professed his Christian faith both visually and verbally on a number of occasions. He once said, “Life only makes sense when our highest ideal is to serve Christ.” After winning cup finals for club and country, he has worn a a headband bearing the words “100% Jesus”. When Neymar was in the Santos youth team, a contribution from the local evangelical church helped pay for a new field for him and his teammates to train on. He began to wear the headband as an outward appreciation of God’s provision for his career.
Obviously we are not privy to what Neymar plans to spend his money on, but I would hope that he is passionate about the furtherance of the gospel and charitable causes, and will choose to use some (or much!) of his wages to that end.
In a world where many are living in abject poverty, it can be easy to deride those who earn lots of money, especially when their weekly salary is more than most people will earn in a lifetime. But if handled correctly, finance can be used to great effect. This should be especially true when cash is placed in the hands of those who follow God. It’s not money itself which scripture warns us against, but the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10).
The story of the rich young ruler (Matthew 19) shows us that the cost of following Jesus is very high, but it also teaches us that through God all things are possible, even saving the extremely wealthy. Whether we agree or not, the amount of money Neymar earns is unlikely to change any time soon, so the best thing we can do is pray that God gives him the wisdom to use his money effectively.
Nathan Jones is digital content manager at Premier For more opinion on the latest trends, topics, news and culture from a Christian perspective, visit premierchristianity.com/blog