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CR7 First Footballer To Become Highest Paid Sportsman

Cristiano Ronaldo is the first footballer to become the highest paid sportsman in history, according to Forbes' latest rich list.

Click through the gallery to see 2016's 10 highest paid sportsman, according to Forbes magazine.

With total earnings of $88 million (R1.17 billion), the Portuguese, who turns 32 on Sunday, has beaten his longstanding rival Lionel Messi, who made $81.4 million (R1.08 billion) in 2016, to the top spot.

However, Ronaldo leads the ranking by a much smaller margin compared to boxers Floyd Mayweather ($300 million, R3.98 billion in 2015) and Manny Pacquiao ($160 million, R2.12 billion in 2015).

"With Mayweather hanging up his gloves and (Tiger) Woods hampered by injuries, there is an opening at the top. Filling the gap is the biggest star in the biggest sport on the planet," Forbes writer Kurt Badenhausen explained.

"This year, soccer icon Cristiano Ronaldo is the world's highest paid athlete, with earnings of $88 million over the past 12 months from salary, bonuses and endorsements.

"Ronaldo is only the second team athlete after Michael Jordan to rank as the top-paid since Forbes began tracking athlete earnings in 1990."

Ronaldo's income rose from $80 million (R1.06 billion) in 2015 to $88 million last year, with $56 million (R744 million) coming from his Real Madrid salary and bonus payments, and the other $32 million (R425 million) coming from his endorsement deals.

Read: Ronaldo: The Truth About Messi Relationship

Note: Forbes calculate the overall income based on earnings including salaries, prize money, bonus payments and sponsorship deals between 1 June 2015 and 1 June 2016. They do not deduct taxes or agents' fees and do not include investment income.

Do you think Ronaldo deserves to be the highest paid sportsman ahead of Messi? Have your say in the comments section below.

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