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Cash incentives in crunch time
- Spaniards’ joy multiplies with each stage

Johannesburg: There is huge financial gain awaiting the Spanish contingent in South Africa should they manage to tame Paraguay on Saturday to make their first ever World Cup semi-finals in 60 years.

According to the Royal Spanish Football Federation, each player will be rewarded with a bonus of $100,000 for the team making the last four.

And, should they make the final, an additional bonus of $150,000 each awaits every member of Vicente del Bosque’s high-profile squad who have already received $75,000 apiece for qualifying for the last eight stage.

There has been some controversy in Spain over the hefty bonus payments to the players, as a lot of people feel that so much money shouldn’t be promised to the ones who are expected to play for national pride.

Although a lot of Spanish players, including goalkeeper Iker Casillas and Xavi have defended the Spanish federation’s decision, their detractors argue that these players are already earning millions from their respective clubs.

Five players in the Spanish team — David Villa, Fernando Torres, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas — are valued at more than $60 million each at the club level with most of the others in the squad worth $38 million on the transfer market.

Xavi is the most valuable of the lot as he earns a cool $87 million from Barcelona.

The Paraguayan players are not so fortunate as their Spanish counterparts.

Striker Oscar Cardozo, who receives a payment of $16.8 million from Benfica and Lucas Barrios, who gets $14.8 million from Borussia Dortmund, are the most well-remunerated of their teammates. But they could soon find their Spanish friends earning more down to earth fees.

Spanish professional football has been passing through a serious economic crisis and, although many of the clubs have turned themselves into sporting limited companies, they are finding it hard to make a profit.

So much so that La Liga, viewed as one of the best leagues in the world, finds itself in a grave financial crisis.

According to reports published by the Spanish federation, the 20 La Liga clubs had a combined debt of $4.41 billion in 2008-09.

Only Real Madrid, Barcelona and the relegated Numancia were able to post an operating profit.

Since the clubs are allowed to negotiate their own television deals in Spain, top teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona have an advantage over other teams.

While these two make an annual income of nearly $200 million from television rights, the television companies pay only one fourth of that amount to other clubs.

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