After extensive external consultation and internal discussion, SportsPro has settled for the fifth time on its annual list of the world’s 50 most marketable athletes in association with Eurosport. There are plenty of new faces and, as ever, a vast array of talking points.
Nobody sensible ever wrote a list and expected others to agree with it. Five editions of the SportsPro 50 Most Marketable Athletes rankings have confirmed that much, if nothing else. It is a quixotic task, however carefully it is approached. There are always those baffled by inclusions and infuriated by omissions. But, hopefully, what begins every year as a blank sheet of paper at least ends up as something worth talking about.
There is a fresh yet familiar look this time around. A remarkable 27 of the athletes listed are new entries but only one of them makes the top ten, which includes seven of those at the head of the rankings last year. Of the 22 who return from 2013 – there is a single re-entry – 14 go down, seven go up and one goes nowhere. There are 13 women, one fewer than last year, and 37 men.
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On the basis that any brand signing an athlete to an endorsement deal now would have no time to plan activity around it, the Fifa World Cup has not been factored into our thinking. With that out of the picture, and the Rio Games looming into view, the list sees some notable changes. Ten of last year’s 50 were soccer players of one stripe or another; this year, that drops to six.
50 names, 50 stories; perhaps no grounds for consensus. But then debate was always more fun anyway.