The European Football Championships begin tomorrow, and the hope of every player in the Belgian squad is to do his best to represent his country and uphold the reputation of the Red Devils.
As well as that honour, every player now knows he will be taking home a handy premium of €435,000 should Belgium win the championship – which statisticians at the university of Leuven have predicted, but which rival researchers at the university of Ghent have disputed in favour of France.
The championship is being organised by UEFA, the European Union of Football Associations, and a total of €331 million is allocated for player premiums, or a minimum of €9.5 million for each nation taking part. Some of that money is earmarked for the players, and Het Laatste Nieuws has revealed how that particular cake is to be divided up.
First comes the group stage, with Belgium in Group B, and up against Denmark, Finland and Russia. Premiums are not payable during this stage. That is to say, placing in the eighth-final brings a player €90,000, which is nothing for the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, who makes a tidy €25 million a year playing for Manchester City.
What happens after that is where the big money comes in.
For playing in the quarter-final, each player will receive €170,000. If the Red Devils go through, their participation in the semi-final will bring in €290,000. If they go through, they receive €370,000 if they lose, and €435,000 for a win.
The numbers, incidentally, are not cumulative. The premium, with the exception of the final, is only paid when the team concerned is eliminated. That €435,000, then, can only be won if the team is not in fact knocked out.
Nice work if you can get it, which of course the vast majority of us cannot even imagine doing.
In the last World Cup, Belgium came third, and Eden Hazard and his team took home a premium of €312,000 for that performance. Had they won the title, the prize would have been €445,000 – only €10,000 more than the top prize this time around.