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Even soccer has its share of insurance headaches

The Google-provided definition of the word insurance is: “A practice by which a company provides a guarantee of compensation for specified loss, damage, illness, or death in return for payment.”

In society, insurance is used in our daily lives, most commonly for the cars we drive and the houses we live in. Insurance is there to protect us from being crippled financially in case of loss or damages. When accidents occur, the insurance provider will compensate the owner of the insured goods the appropriate amount of money.

Over the years, the world has seen some abstract insurance policies issued, from singer Bruce Springsteen’s vocal chords to cricket player Merv Hughes’s moustache – not to mention the $7-million insurance policy Tom Jones took out for his chest hair.

The most notable insurance policy in soccer today is Portugal’s and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo has insured his legs for 100 million euros ($144 million). David Beckham has a similar policy worth $70 million, also on his legs. The insurance amount for four-time world player of the year Lionel Messi is not published.

There must have been a huge gasp in Groupama Insurance headquarters when Real Madrid’s goalkeeper Iker Casillas went down with a fractured hand injury in January. They insured his hands for $10 million.

The Spanish international backstopped for Spain in both euro Championship wins and their World Cup title. He was named Golden Globe Award winner as best keeper at the 2010 World Cup. Groupama can breathe a little easier as Casillas is fit to make a full return earlier than first speculated.

Club or country? There is always some reluctance from the big clubs to release their superstars for international duty, at risk of losing their player to injury.

That happened at World Cup 2010. Holland’s Arjen Robben returned to Bayern Munich more injured than he was. He sat on the shelf for six months and the German club saw little compensation. Clubs demanded FIFA act, and so they did.

FIFA opened up their reserves and signed a major $70-million insurance policy to protect all clubs, making it a lot easier to see their stars leave for national duty. This policy is good through the Brazil 2014 World Cup.

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Ken Coughlin

About the Author

Ken Coughlin


Experienced Chief Executive Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the insurance industry. Strong business development professional skilled in Negotiation, Budgeting, Business Planning, Operations Management, and Property & Casualty Insurance.

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