According to Sporting Intelligence, the team with the biggest financial incentive to win the 2010 World Cup is the United States. And not only is it the biggest — it's the biggest ever. Sporting Intelligence explains:
The USA’s World Cup squad will share a bonus pot of more than $20m (£13.8m) if they defy the odds to win the tournament in South Africa this summer. The potential payout is the most lucrative confirmed bonus scheme in the history of the tournament and could net the 23 players involved $895,000 (£617,332) each should they triumph. [...]
The USA’s massive bonus deal has been agreed in secret as part of the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The CBA dictates pay levels and working conditions applicable in Major League Soccer and for the USA international team.[...]
If the USA win the World Cup, then US Soccer is committed to putting as much as 66.4 per cent of the prize earnings ($20.6m of $31m) straight into the players’ pockets.
If the players flop, they will get just 20 per cent of US Soccer’s earnings, or $1.8m from $9m. (In addition to the $8m minimum for being in the group phase, each nation gets $1m “preparation” money).
For comparison's sake, the second-highest monetary incentive to win the World Cup belongs to Spain, where each player on the much more likely contenders stands to make about $731,000 (£500,000) each.
[Photos: See the U.S. soccer team in action]
Built into the U.S.'s bonus system are smaller incentives like $180,000 for each point they earn in the group stage, and a base bonus of $78,447 for being complete and utter disappointments by getting knocked out of the group stage with no points at all.
Of course, the chances of the U.S. winning the World Cup, even with this massive tub of cash dangling atop the trophy as incentive, are pretty slim. Even the players say their only goal is to get out of the group stage. So the bonus for winning could be a gajillionty trillion super-dollars and it would be just as relevant as that $20 million. But I'm sure they'd gladly roll right through the final and snatch that money if the oportunity arises.
Here's Sporting Intelligence's handy chart, breaking down exactly how the bonus is structured:
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