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Forbes' Starting Lineup: The 11 Richest Soccer Billionaires

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There was a time not too long ago when owning a soccer team was considered a billionaire’s ultimate luxury purchase. Today, after legendary clubs like Manchester United became public, anyone can own a stake in a soccer club.

So here we focus only on the most exclusive sub-set, the 11 richest soccer club owners in the world. With a combined wealth of $260.4 billion, the billionaires in our starting lineup dominate the business world just like Ronaldo rules soccer fields.  The world's richest man, Carlos Slim, leads the squad thanks to three recent purchases. These 11 billionaires, the poorest of whom is worth $10 billion and ranked 109 among the world's billionaires, amassed$26.2 billion in only one year, proving they make money as fast as soccer superstar Messi dribbles opponents.

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Paul Allen owns Major League Soccer's Seattle Sounders FC. (Getty Images)

Roman Abramovich is our most emblematic and the 10th richest soccer billionaire. In less than 10 years, the Russian tycoon has spent over $2.97 billion on his Chelsea, deserving to wear jersey number 10 in Forbes list of the world's richest soccer club owners.

More than 50 billionaires own stakes in soccer teams. Therefore, competition for a spot in our starting lineup is intense and our bench is full. Among the illustrious 39 bench warmers, not rich enough to be part of the soccer starting lineup, are the following billionaires:

Florentino PerezReal Madrid’s president, has a fortune of “only” $1.4 billion. Real Madrid was elected the best club of the 20th century and has been doing really well recently. However, Perez is still far away from claiming a starting position in the Forbes team of the world’s richest soccer clubs owners.

The inventor of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz, is worth $7.1 billion and has stakes in two soccer teams: Red Bull Salzburg and New York Red Bulls.   He is worth $2.8 billion more than he was a year ago. If Red Bull keeps raking in the big bucks like Henry used to score goals when he played for Arsenal, Mateschitz might claim a position in our starting lineup in the next few years.

Silvio Berlusconi, former prime minister of Italy, owns A.C. Milan and a diversified empire. His estimated net worth of $6.2 billion is not enough to include him in our starting 11.

Dmitry Rybolovlev, worth $9.1 billion, is the owner of the soccer team from Monaco, A.S. Monaco F.C. The extravagant billionaire reportedly paid more than $300 million for a Monaco penthouse called La Belle Epoque, where he lives. He also bought a villa in Hawaii from movie star Will Smith and Donald Trump's Palm Beach mansion, Maison de L'Amitie. However, he can’t buy a position in our starting lineup. He will have to win it by performing well in the markets.

In Pictures: Soccer's Biggest Billionaires Backers

It is said that Prince Alwaleed, the Saudi King Abdullah’s nephew, is currently in talks to buy Swindon Town football club. Prince Alwaleed made international headlines complaining he should be considered one of the world’s 10 richest. However, Forbes valued him as the 26st richest in the world, with an estimated net worth of $20 billion. If he ends up buying the club that plays in League One, the third tier of English football, he will be part of Forbes starting lineup and will replace Philip Anchutz, who might be leaving the sport soon anyways having put LA Galaxy for sale.

Sheik  Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan,  Manchester City owner,  and Nasser Al-Khelaifi, PSG president, are not included in the list of the richest soccer club owners because Forbes does not value families or royal fortunes unless we can clearly see who owns the fortunes. For instance, the Qatari royal family is not on our list.

Interestingly, Brazil has 46 billionaires but none of them owns a soccer club. There were rumors that Antonio José Carneiro would buy Botafogo, one of Brazil's most well known soccer clubs. However, his PR confirmed to Forbes that he does not own the club.

So without further adieu, here are the 11 wealthiest soccer team owners on the planet.

1. Carlos Slim Helu (Mexico) Net worth: $73 Billion, up $4billion from last year. Clubs: Club Pachuca, Club Leon (Mexico) and Real Oviedo (Spain)

Carlos Slim is the world's richest man for the fourth year in a row. He made his fortune in telecom but didn't stop there. His omnipresent empire is also involved in soccer. In September 2012, his America Movil bought stakes in two Mexican clubs, Club Pachuca and Club Leon. In November 2012, Slim purchased part of struggling Spanish soccer team Real Oviedo.

2. Amancio Ortega (Spain) Net worth: $57 Billion, up $19.5 billion from last year. Club: Deportivo La Coruna (Spain)

Spain's Amancio Ortega, the fashion kingpin who founded Spanish retail giant Inditex, has moved into the top three among the world's richest for the first time. Ortega can often be seemed in the tribunes of stadium Riazor, home of Deportivo La Coruna. Last year his daughter's million dollar wedding was forced to start 90 minutes late because of a match between his adored team and Barcelona B. Ortega is the year's biggest gainer, up $19.5 billion. However, his beloved soccer team, known as“El Turco,” has been the biggest loser in the Spanish League so far, currently in the last position.

3. George Soros (United States) Net Worth: $19.2 Billion, down $800 million from last year. Club: Manchester United (England)

Billionaire investor George Soros is known for having broken the bank of England.  Now, he’s betting on the UK’s largest soccer team, Manchester United.  In August 2012, Soros revealed a 7.85% stake in the football club, through his investment firm, Soros Fund Management.  Billionaire Malcolm Glazer is the club’s official owner. He took the team public the last year, retaining 98% of voting shares and netting $100 million in cash. The stock surged more than 33% in the following 6 months. Manchester United became the first sports team to be valued at more than $3 billion in January 2013.

4. Lakshmi Mittal (India) Net Worth: $16.5 Billion, up $500 million from last year. Club: Queens Park Rangers Football Club (England) Indian-born steel baron Lakshmi Mittal is a longtime London resident; he and his son Aditya were among the torch bearers for the 2012 Olympics Torch Relay. Laskshmi and his family own 33% of Queens Park Rangers, which broke their own transfer record twice in January, spending over $30 million to buy striker Loic Remy and central defender Chris Samba. Currently, the west London club is in the last position of the English Premier League.  Tony Fernandes, who runs Asia’s largest budget airline, also owns stake in QPR, which was once owned by billionaire Bernard Ecclestone.

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Alisher Usmanov owns a part of Arsenal in the English Premier League.

5. Alisher Usmanov (Russia) Net Worth: $17.6 Billion, down $500 million from last year. Club: Arsenal Football Club (England)

The richest man in Russia, Alisher Usmanov, has his fingers in many pots: he got rich in metals (iron and steel), but now has interests in everything from Silicon Valley start-ups to Russia's largest business daily, Kommersant. He sold part of his stake in Facebook at the time of the 2012 IPO, pocketing $1.3 billion. Usmanov and billionaire partner Farhad Moshiri, who has a fortune of $2.8 billion, also own stakes in FC Arsenal. American billionaire Stanley Kroenke, with an estimated net worth of $5 billion, is the controlling shareholder of FC Arsenal. British press claims that a Middle East consortium is preparing a bid to buy out Arsenal for around $30,000 a share, totaling over $2 billion.

6. Rinat Akhmetov (Ukraine) Net worth: $15.4 billion, down $600 million from last year. Club: FC Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine)

Ukraine's wealthiest and son of a coal miner, Akhmetov  has been riding high after UEFA Euro 2012 games were played in his $400 million Donbass Arena. Akhmetov is the owner and president of FC Shakhtar Donetsk, which won the national championship seven times in the past 13 years. Soccer is the most popular sport in Ukraine, especially among billionaires. Akhmetov's business partner, Vadim Novinsky, with a fortune of $1.9 billion, is the owner of Ukranian club PFC Sevastopol.

7. François Pinault (France) Net worth: $15 billion, up $2 billion from last year Club: Rennes (France)

French luxury goods mogul Francois Pinault’s group owns high-end fashion houses including Gucci, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and Yves Saint Laurent. Pinault is 100% owner of Christie's, which sold $5.3 billion of art at auction in 2012. His son Francois-Henri, married to actress Salma Hayek, is a soccer aficionado. Since 1998, the family Pinault owns Stade Rennais, also known as Rennes, a professional soccer club in their native Brittany.

8. Paul Allen (United States) Net worth: $15 billion, up $800 million from last year Club: Seattle Sounders FC (United States)

The co-founder of Microsoft has gone from state-school dropout to one of the world's richest men.  Allen is the kind of billionaire who combines his passions for sports and science. He is a part-owner of Seattle Sounders FC, which plays in the American Major League Soccer and was founded in 2007. Allen also owns other sports teams like the Seattle Seahawks (football) and the Portland Trailblazers (basketball). The cancer survivor has a keen interest in neuroscience, having recently lost his mother to Alzheimer's disease.

9. John Fredriksen (Cyprus) Net worth: $11.5 billion, up $200 million from last year. Team: Valerenga (Norway)

This much is certain about John Fredriksen: the oil tanker and shipping tycoon loves soccer almost as much as he hates paying taxes. Fredriksen became a citizen of Cyprus in 2006 to avoid Norway's hefty taxes and now follows his Olso team mostly from afar. Fredriksen reportedly turned down a $200 million offer by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich for his London mansion in 2006. A fan of English soccer, Fredriksen's name has long been floated as a potential buyer of a Premier League club.

10. Roman Abramovich (Russia) Net Worth: $10.2 billion, down $1.9 billion from last year. Club: Chelsea Football Club (England)

The owner of Chelsea Football Club makes international headlines weekly. It is repeatedly suggested he will spend millions of Euros to bring the next soccer super star to London, and he often does. Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003 for $233 million, the biggest takeover in British football history at the time. In less than 10 years, the Russian tycoon has spent over $2.97 billion in his Chelsea. Abramovich indulges in a number of luxury hobbies: he owns the world's largest yacht, a 377-foot ice boat, a Boeing 767 and homes in London, France, St. Barts, Colorado and Los Angeles.

11. Philip Anschutz (United States) Net Worth: $10 billion, up $3 billion from last year. Club: Los Angeles Galaxy (United States)

Anschutz has made fortunes in oil, railroads and telecom but grabbed international headlines when he signed David Beckham to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Although Beckham was injured most of the time and did not provide much on the pitch, he created a lot of press for the league and was responsible for boosting attendance wherever the Galaxy played.  He owns L.A. Galaxy through AEG, which also controls dozens of the world's greatest concert venues like the Staples Center and Nokia Theater in L.A., London's O2, and Shanghai's Mercedes-Benz Arena. The Los Angeles Galaxy, along with the rest of AEG, is up for sale.

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